A More Perfect Union

Why do some consider the Affordable Care Act (ACA) bad for our nation? When one considers that social democratic theories have not played a major role in shaping benefit policy in the United States, it is no surprise that such programs were virtually non-existent here until the implementation of Social Security in 1935. I wonder why that is.

While most Americans pride themselves on being American, we define ourselves by our tolerance and compassion for those less fortunate and a history of inclusion born from the life stories of those who came here with hope for a better life. We owe each other better.

Sure, I could throw you any number of statistics to demonstrate how much good the ACA can do, or how many lives will be saved, or how the quality of the lives of those devastated by the cost of disease and misfortune would benefit but, in the end, they are just numbers and we are not just numbers. We are people. We are people who strive to be better; to live up to the promise of a government that serves all, not just a few. We the people.

So, why is it that some believe that helping your fellow man departs from what we value most? I don’t know. Do you? There are those who would see our house fall before rushing in to shore up its foundation, not because the foundation is failing but because of who is standing in the building.

I suppose that each of us has to determine how we define ourselves. It is a choice. My choice is to believe that I have a responsibility, as a human being, as an American, as a parent, as a son, to help fulfill this promise. The ACA is not perfect but, then again, neither are we.

But we try. We work toward forming a more perfect union. Disease and accident do not apply themselves along ideological lines, or between the wealthy and the poor, the fortunate and unfortunate. We are one people—at least we strive to be.

The Affordable Care Act perhaps represents what is the best part of us. It is not the legacy of one president. It is the legacy of one people. People of compassion and those who recognize that some things transcend the needs of the few—and that we are all better people because of it.

John Bouvier

About D. Posnett MD

Emeritus Prof. of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
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