A Conservative Case for Universal Healthcare

By Graham Glover

Universal healthcare. The mere mention of the idea is enough to bring a smile to a liberal and a scowl to a conservative.

Outside of the immigration debate, I don’t think there is an issue that divides the electorate more than whether the United States federal government should provide healthcare to all its citizens. Obama won two elections because of his promise to provide universal healthcare. One could argue that Trump won an election because of his promise to repeal it.

Conventional political wisdom says that liberals support it and conservatives do not. But I think that wisdom should no longer apply. I think it’s time for conservatives to abandon their fight against universal healthcare, and instead embrace the idea, hijacking the issue and the conversation from the liberals.

For the past 40 years, liberals have dominated the health care debate. They have shaped the dialogue, and despite the actions of the House of Representatives this past week, have swung public opinion in favor of universal healthcare. There are going to be changes to the Affordable Care Act when the Republicans finally figure out how to govern as the majority party. Some changes are clearly necessary. But it is sheer political fantasy to think we will ever go back to the healthcare industry as it was 8 years ago. Universal healthcare, of some variety, is here to stay. And truth be told, I think a comprehensive single payer system is where we’ll ultimately end up.

Conservatives may not like where the pendulum has swung on this issue, but they need not capitulate. What they need to do is reshape the conversation moving forward.

By letting liberals shape the healthcare debate, we are now in a situation where people talk about healthcare as a right. This is political absurdity at its finest. It’s reasonable to suggest that the government has a responsibility to ensure all its citizens have healthcare, but equating this to an inalienable right makes those rights that mean something (life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness), ultimately inconsequential. We are also in a place where supporting universal healthcare means you support medical services that are elective in nature. Universal healthcare should solely have in mind keeping people from getting sick and making them better when they become ill. Elective procedures, to include birth control of any variety, gender modification, sexual enhancement drugs, cosmetic surgery, etc., should have nothing to do with providing healthcare to the American citizenry. Ever.

Conservatives can make universal healthcare their issue by making it one of substance rather than ideology. Emotional platitudes and political gamesmanship should give way to a policy whose only purpose is the guarantee that every American citizen, from the time they are conceived until the time they die, has medical care. That’s it. A simple, albeit complex contract between the American government and its people. A contract that is focused on maintaining a healthy populous and a healthy economy, neither of which can ever be fully realized without universal coverage.

Universal healthcare can become the conservative issue when it becomes one of pragmatics and economics – when it becomes one of national pride and sovereignty. Conservatives talk a lot about conserving the ideals of the American republic and I can’t think of a better place to conserve these ideals that in a system that ensures healthcare for all its citizens.

Not convinced? Try this bumper sticker on for size:

Universal Healthcare – Making America Great Again!

I think it’s a winner, for the sticker industry and the conservative movement.

12 thoughts on “A Conservative Case for Universal Healthcare

  1. Graham, your message has an interesting take on the healthcare of our country. It comes after my doctor’s appointment yesterday in which we had a long conversation about the pros and cons. He has been our family doctor for 20 years………..based on his side of this issue, if a single payer plan or any sort of a Government run Universal Healthcare (excluding Medicare) our country will loose our choices of good doctors, great doctors unless you have lots of money for concerige services. It might be best if we look more into the medical personal opinion on what this means for them and ultimately for us. Healthcare is not a right, those of us who have been blessed with enough to pay for private insurance or work for companies and the government who pay for the healthcare need to fight for the right to choose. We can’t take care of everyone if everyone doesn’t have “skin in the game.”


    1. Gail, there are some valid concerns about the quality and ease of access to care that a single payer program would provide. Trust me, my family and I deal with those nuances all of the time in the military (which runs a single payer insurance program). But compared to what we had, where the free market ruled, I think the best way forward is a national single payer program for all. If/when we go that route, there will always be opportunities for people to supplement their government sponsored healthcare (perhaps like some people do now with Aflac).

      Underlying my argument is my belief that our nation has a responsibility to provide healthcare to all of its citizens. Note my choice of words there: citizens. We obviously cannot provide the same level of care to anybody and everybody this is in our land, but as a citizen, I just cannot grasp the concept that we do not ensure medical services are provided.


  2. There is no remote notion of any kind in our Constitution to make this a government issue. That could be argued to make it anathema to the federal government’s control.

    The only way to do it is to take someone’s resources for a system that does not properly belong to government and give them to someone else. That is rather exactly what Lincoln said slavery does. “There is no greater injustice than to wring your profits from the sweat of another man’s brow.” The most that could be argued for this socialist project, that has already proven to ruin everyone’s medical care, is to suppose it isn’t profit for the one who benefits from another’s work and income.

    Aside from that, no nation has yet been able to do this without rationing care for everyone except the very wealthy. Naturally, they can get their care from wherever they wish, assuming it hasn’t been ruined by socialists everywhere.

    This is a really bad idea, Graham.


    1. Don, I was reminded by a family member today that the 9th Amendment provides the catch-all that the Rights encompassed under the Bill of Rights are not meant to limit the rights of the people to the number in the Constitution.

      As you know, the Supreme Court has said that people have the right to marry outside of their race, and also have marital sex, and the right to per-marital sex, and the right to gay sex, and the right to gay marriage. Bottom line, the Supreme Court has used the 9th Amendment to state that there are additional rights in the Constitution which aren’t enumerated. (I’m not advocating some of these newer rights, only that the Court has enumerated them.)

      As for universal health care beholding us to bondage, would you make the same argument about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?

      Most importantly however is that this article is not meant to advocate for universal health care. I think that it’s already a reality and that if conservatives want to shape the debate (which I’d like them to do), they should rethink their strategy.


      1. Graham, I think you’d find that the 9th Amendment is supposed to keep the government from removing rights not enumerated, not make some up to enumerate. I would say some of those you mentioned are that – healthcare would be another. Also, if universal health care was now an undebatable reality, no one would be trying to undo it. As for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, those are safety nets for the poor; SS and Medicare were supposed to be investments for that safety net (botched with the Washington big-spenders’ blessing, and now that money is gone, making it a much greater tax-payers’ burden). I would add that they do even that badly, increasingly rationing care and finding it difficult to find care-givers who will take that meager payment to look after the vulnerable. Why would any sane person turn the whole lot over to government?


  3. Having worked 40 years in health care, we have to a degree been paying for other care always. In the years I saw the free care was involved in the way insurance increased for companies. I do believe my God is one of love and concern for others. I think from conception to death is a idea Jesus would like. He did not say to the people with leprosy that it was their fault that they were ill. He just healed them.
    (When Medicare first started people thought it was giving away too much, however I have seen many lovely people that would be dead without it.) I know I am rambling but there are so many important issues to be examined and I feel that some people are not willing to be as open minded as your article today. Graham you have my encouragement. Well said!

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  4. Dang Graham! You got my attention. This may be a good start for a compromise between a bunch of us really hard heads on both sides of the issue. Don’t get to excited about this as I have little faith that anything run by the federal government is a good idea. Maybe we can add that it’s all done at the state level as each state chooses to do it. I think the 10th Amendment may be invoked otherwise


    1. Toy, we may disagree on whether universal healthcare is a good idea, but I think we can both agree on a desire for conservatives to reshape the debate. I’m not wed to a particular system, but I see the writing on the wall (as does the Fox News/National Review corespondent, Charles Krauthammer) that single payer is coming.


  5. G2 –

    Wasn’t going to comment, I figured you’d get shot down on this one pretty quick,, but Gramsci has seemingly won the day in this country. Hard to read these comments (Don excepted).

    Correction on the 9th and 10th Amendments – a “right” to healthcare is in direct conflict with the entire conception of rights. To force anyone to pay for others is flat out wrong (and yes, I am bold enough to bring in Medicare and Medicaid – SS was a contract, not an entitlement, and funds from each individual worker which were to gather interest until payout). It is legalized stealing! SS still still functions as a contract – although Gore and Clinton emptied the funds and replaced them with IOU’s so they could say the balanced the budget. The less you pay into SS, the less you receive in retirement.

    To force folks to pay for others would then supercede other rights, the very same constitutional gripe with the now failed Obamacare – citizens were being “forced” by gummint to buy something. Wrongo! That is constitutionally out of order, and to counter that with “we have to run with what we now have” is fundamentally UNAmerican.

    In addition, besides the major health insurers, there are now any number of health care cooperatives already on the market, and getting out from under gummint-forced insurance would let that market open up widely! Socialism is not, and has never been proven to sustain itself!. De Tocqueville prophesied that once Americans learned to vote themselves a share in the public trough, the American experiment was over.

    Besides – despite your contention, there could never be anything “conservative” about your idea. It is simply impossible to call it that. See kirkcenter.org/index.php/detail/ten-conservative-principles/

    Chuckie Schumer says the same thing. He is hardly a constitutional authority on ANYTHING! Quite the socialist, he!


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