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



  • Heza Putz wrote on September 22, 2017 11:08 AM :

    Currently nearly half of the American population is on a single payer plan….VA, Medicaid and Medicare. Perhaps single payer advocates like Bernie should tell us which three of those they will deliver to the people because two of those three existing single payer systems ain’t so great.

  • Charlie wrote on September 22, 2017 12:22 PM :

    Health care is not a right, nor is it a privilege. It is a responsibility of the family to do their best to insure access to the best health care that is available to them. This includes seeking and paying for the health insurance that best suits their particular circumstance, avoiding those behaviors that put their health at risk and monitoring the general health of their family members. Not a government function.

  • Ricky Lee Williams Jr. wrote on September 22, 2017 12:43 PM :

    I have been told that this Equifax breech was done by a state sponsored rogue operation. If this turns out to be true, the Russian connection to the presidential election is nothing compared to what is going to happen if Russia and North Korea have half of the country’s personal information. This is under Andy Barr’s Banking Committee’s oversight.

    We have to stop catering and pandering to corporate America and the far left welfare crowds. It would be nice if the middle class had someone who represented us in Washington.

    We have been in favor of debates for years. These candidates never get put to the test and voters go to elect our candidates mainly blind.

    I would love to see Andy Barr debate John Yarmuth in a 90 minute showing about how this ACA should look. It is amazing, to me, the lack of true dialogue with anyone inside of politics or out, talking in simple, layman’s terms about healthcare today in America. Whenever you see both sides running, such as they are today on the ACA issue, where there is no transparency and no true financial picture to be discussed among each base, this is one of those rare times where there is no way, no matter we get, it is going to survive.

    We keep hearing how Kentucky had the most increase in coverage of any state in the union. To say that is better health outcomes, with a straight face, is a task in and of itself. Having coverage is not exactly giving up old habits and living a healthier lifestyle. It is basically, similar to these 20 something year olds getting their heart valve replaced at over 120,000 plus, while someone who has worked their whole life can’t afford their private insurance any longer for the government keeping up that small percentage that sucks the life out of every noble government program.

    I would like to see a bipartisan commission put together, where we get these candidates together to have 3 or 4 debates before election day.

    We cannot afford free healthcare for all in this country. Between Medicaid and Medicare, Kentucky has been a drain on the country for years. The government controls healthcare in America already. Between the VA, Medicaid, and Medicare that is 70% of Americans. There is 22% of Americans on private insurance plans. That is it- 22%. The rest either has no insurance or are on government subsidized programs. Again, the working middle class is getting squeezed. Both Mitch McConnell and John Yarmuth know this. RL

  • Raymond Hurst wrote on September 22, 2017 10:39 PM :

    As Reggie Thomas says; health care IS a MORAL right. If more Americans could think and act like Jesus Christ did while he was here, there would be no debate. America is now a nation that has no compassion for their fellow man. To be Christians; Andy Barr and Matt Bevin sure don’t show much love or compassion for their fellow Americans who have less. And to say people are sick because they don’t live a healthy lifestyle? I don’t drink or smoke, I am physically active and have always worked, yet I have had cancer 4 times. So much for the ‘‘healthy lifestyle’‘ theory which must have been dreamed up by someone from Mars. (I do hear Republicans espouse this theory quite often.) Maybe I am just the exception to the rule.

  • Heza Putz wrote on September 23, 2017 02:56 PM :

    I can remember when Senator Barack Obama called our national debt immoral, just as I can remember when Senator Julian Carroll called homosexuality immoral. Is it moral when a kid goes through 12 years of compulsory public education and can’t read their own diploma? Is it moral to say that a 28 year old forced to buy a health insurance policy with an 8,000 deductible when that kid has 200 bucks in the bank actually has health insurance? I’d sooner listen to a hooker preach about abstinence than listen to politicians talk much about morality.

What do you have to say?


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