New Jersey: Should We Deem Healthcare a Right or a Service?

NJ Spotlight | Revitalizing NJ’s Healthcare Industry, One Hospital at a Time.

To answer this question, or rather give my opinion of what the answer should be, I must dwell a bit on my past. Please be patient.

There were, generally speaking, two types of opponents against Castro in Cuba: Those who wanted to topple Communism and those who wanted to topple Tyranny. I belonged to the latter group and at 20 I did not realize that the two were hand in hand and that all political systems, regardless of ideology,  resort to tyranny in order to maintain control as they reach their extremes. Say that such is the human condition.

In any event, to jump to the point here, I always gave credit to the Cuban regime – and still do – on two counts: The universality of a free and effective public education and the availability of good healthcare to all at no visible cost – of course everyone was paying for it but indirectly, in the gigantic pool of a super-centralized economy.

When I saw this article this morning, I decided to explore the issue in the context of our society – profit-oriented, capitalist, and where health care is for the most part a business. The article addresses two bills currently in the New Jersey Legislature which attempt to rescue hospitals which are no longer profitably or in operation. Symptomatically of the way we look at healthcare, the article cites in its first paragraph what could be the fundamental concerns of the writer, or society?, jobs, revenue (a nice word for earnings), and taxes.

Nothing wrong with having those concerns but the fundamental question is whether the hospitals are necessary for their communities.We must determine case by case. That is what the Legislature is attempting to do in a way by enticing the private sector to rescue those institutions. If the institution is not needed, a quasi Darwinian selection may happen.

Government is the voice and arm of society and it has some core functions. Public health is amid that core. Is healthcare at the heart of public health or not? From my perspective, healthcare and public health are interchangeable.They are one and a social issue as well; one of the core roles of government.

Healthcare and its price will exert a very powerful force on the economy of New Jersey for years to come. Most of the growth in the state is attributable to healthcare jobs. At the same time, the price-tag of healthcare is choking off other industries which could be growing were it not for healthcare. Can the economy of New Jersey run on healthcare alone? Certainly not, like we can not drive a car running on one piston only.

Now I must end by saying that at this point I do not have a healthcare reform plan of my own. I have outlined some steps in my program but I do not pretend that there is a plan. I do not know enough to draw a plan. But what I can unambiguously affirm is that I see a significant role in healthcare for the state government, if I am elected governor of New Jersey in 2013.