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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Medical Independence Day

Independence Day and Healthcare for all……………..

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

In the 21st century, chronic disease has become a major cause of death both here and abroad. The threats to our liberty are dramatically different in the 21st century, compared to those faced by our founding fathers over 200 years ago. Most countries recognize the charter set forth by the World Health Organization that mirrors this change, which mandates "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.". If one looks at our original Declaration of Independence, adopting a principle of universal health for all is consistent with our core American values that respects health not as a luxury, but rather as an essential and inalienable human right. If one looks closely at the hard fought liberties won by Americans over the centuries, it becomes apparent that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can not be achieved in this century without adequate health. Health is no more a luxury than freedom of speech, religion or any of the other freedoms outlined in our Constitution based on the premise that all individuals are endowed with certain inalienable rights.

Indeed our founding fathers set up a framework to challenge the government if these liberties are not being met, so as to make the Constitution a living document that changes with the times without changing its essential principles. In essence, access to adequate healthcare needs to be viewed through the lenses of our founding fathers as an inalienable right, not a political forum. In the most powerful and supposedly benevolent and generous country on the planet in the 21st century, it is as inexcusable and unconscionable for a diabetic individual to go without insulin, a stroke patient not have access to their blood pressure medications, or an asthmatic have their lifeline of oxygen and breathing treatments to breath, as sending a soldier into war without weapons or reinforcements to fight for our freedom.

On this 4th of July, I ask that as individuals and as Americans, old and young, women and men, from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, religions and diverse political views, we remember what our country was founded on, namely life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and then consider how any American today can achieve that liberty without health. Once we are able to view healthcare in this light, we are able to find the path towards a more universal and caring approach to care for those in need. That is my wish on behalf of my patients for a 21st century Independence Day.

Ross Isaacs, M.D.
Charlottesville, VA

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