In this country, we have a debate over whether healthcare is a right or a privilege. My guest this week on the AHP proved that health is a right, at least it is on the East End of Charleston and the surrounding areas she and her team serve. WV Health Right was founded and continues to operate on the belief that every person is entitled to quality healthcare, even if they don’t have private insurance. In fact, 28,000 West Virginians get quality medical care, dental care, pharmaceuticals, vision care, behavioral health services, and health education because of a small clinic on Washington Street. It is their mission.
Their four assumptions:
- Each person has inherent uniqueness, value, and worth and is therefore worthy of respect of others
- Basic healthcare is a fundamental right
- With that, there are corresponding responsibilities, including to participate in their care
- Members of a society have the responsibility to care for the most weak and vulnerable
These assumptions sum up the philosophy. In my time working with WV Health Right CEO, Angie Settle, I believe the staff lives the mission. I learned a lot from interviewing Angie. I also garnered a great deal of respect for the paid staff who work for less than they’d be paid at comparable facilities and the army of volunteer physicians and dentists who give freely of their time to treat patients for which they don’t receive anything other than a thank you.
The debate about healthcare as a right has been going on for decades. Presidents going back to FDR & Harry Truman worked to have reform in the system including everything from a single payer to our current implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. With election season just getting its stride for the 2020 contests, we hear a lot of Democratic Presidential candidates talking about “Medicare for All” and Republicans asking how we’re going to pay for it. Maybe Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, and their Republican counterparts should spend a few hours with Angie Settle and crew. They provide healthcare for all and they pay for it.