April 22, 2014 by Alison Mann

Health Care is a Human Right Committee Member Sarah Lazare’s letter to the editor

Health Care is a Human Right Committee Member Sarah Lazare’s letter to the editor was published by the Bangor Daily News on April 18, 2014.

 Dignity and rights

Health care is a human right, and every person in the state of Maine deserves full coverage that is humane, equitable and meets all of their needs. This is possible through a publicly funded, universal system.

The debate over MaineCare expansion shows that politicians are not willing to take even the most modest steps toward more insurance, let alone real care for everyone.

Furthermore, the health care debate in Maine and nationally has brought to the surface nasty anti-poor and racist claims, including the charge that people have low incomes because of moral failings and “should just get jobs.”

This is especially cruel in a state where there isn’t enough work to go around, let alone full-time work that pays a living wage. When you consider the 41,600 involuntary part-time workers who want more work but simply can’t find it, our state’s comprehensive unemployment is 13.7 percent. This is not a failure of individuals. It’s a failure of the economic system.

The blame-the-poor argument reveals something even more sinister — the implicit claim that people with low incomes should be denied care and, ultimately, the right to well-being and life.

Those of us organizing for universal health care with the Southern Maine Workers’ Center think it is unconscionable that people who are vulnerable, marginalized and dispossessed would be left to die.

Change is not going to come from Maine’s halls of state power. It’s going to take a movement of workers, unemployed people and those directly impacted to shift the debate — toward dignity and human rights.

Sarah Lazare