Is health care a basic right? Here's what the candidates currently in the race for the 6th Congressional Dist. told us

09/21/2017 05:01 PM

In America there’s the presumption of being endowed certain unalienable rights, like, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which are set forth in the Declaration of Independence. But does health care fit into those rights?

Four candidates seeking to represent the people of the 6th Congressional district were asked if health care is a basic human right and their views on health care by Pure Politics.

Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington, who has represented the district since 2013, had a rather nuanced approach to the question when we asked in August of this year.

Barr said that many of his constituents, particularly those who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, talk about health care being a fundamental right.

“I have no problem with people saying that (health care) should be a right,” Barr said, adding that his grandparents died of cancer, and his sister has arthritis.

“Of course I want, my grandparents with cancer or my sister with arthritis to get the best health care that they can, and for my family of course she can get quality health care,” he said. “The question though, is, just calling it a right doesn’t change the fundamental underlying economics of health care.”

The Lexington Republican said there is an “insatiable appetite for health care services,” but it costs money to pay for those services both for care, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

“You can call it a right, but it doesn’t change the fact that health care is a scarce resource, it’s an expensive resource and someone has got to pay for it,” he said.

Barr voted for a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and sent to the U.S. Senate earlier this year.

The three Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to take on Barr all agree that health care coverage is a human right, and all three are seeking the end goal of universal health care coverage in the United States.

In an interview with Pure Politics earlier this month, state Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington called health care a “moral right,” as he advocated for a single-payer, Medicare-for-all style system of universal health care.

“Health care is so critical to our society,” Thomas said, adding that everyone should have availability and affordability of care.

Retired Marine Corps fighter pilot Lt. Col. Amy McGrath of Georgetown agrees, saying “basic health care is a fundamental right that should be guaranteed for every American.”

“Similar to our guarantees of a basic education to every child born, health care is an issue that affects us as a nation, and it’s a moral issue for me,” McGrath told Pure Politics.

In an interview with Pure Politics this month said she was in favor of fixing issues with the Affordable Care Act. The Georgetown Democrat also believes that the end goal is universal health coverage.

“While single-payer would be my preferred path if we started from scratch, that is not our reality,” she said. “I remain committed to working in a bipartisan way to fix the problems with the Affordable Care Act, which brought down Kentucky’s uninsured rate from the mid-20s to single digits. Simply dismantling it is a reckless act.”

Perennial candidate Geoff Young, who has run for the seat twice before, is supporting a single-payer system proposed by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan.

Young flatly said that health care is a fundamental right, when asked by Pure Politics.

“Yes, yes it is,” he said. “Most of the world agrees — the United States is behind the rest of the world on that issue.”

Congressman Barr told Pure Politics that he thinks single-payer is not the answer. He said that putting government in charge of health care would be worse than the problems under the Affordable Care Act.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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