The Oregon legislature adjourned last weekend without referring to the voters the “Hope Amendment”— a proposed constitutional amendment declaring that: “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to … affordable health care as a fundamental right.” I understand and am sympathetic with what the sponsors of this amendment were trying to achieve. Indeed, I’ve spent many years advocating for universal access to timely, affordable, quality medical care. I do not believe that access to health care is a privilege, nor do I believe that health care is just another commodity.
My question is simply this: will making health care a right get us where we want to go, or will it take us down the wrong path? Before enshrining this right in the Oregon constitution, we should be clear about what we are trying to achieve. Are we trying to ensure only that Oregonians have financial access to health (medical) care; or are we trying to ensure the all Oregonians are healthy? This is a significant question and one that deserves a closer look. Read more here.