Caution: AMA Ponders Calling Health Care a Right

by Alieta Eck, MD

The idea that healthcare is a right might sound kind and compassionate, but in reality it is self-serving to those who would profit from Big Government in medicine—either by winning elections or reaping the financial benefits of the massive programs it demands.

The American Medical Association (AMA) considered Resolution 007, to decide whether health care is a human right, at its 2017 annual meeting.

Unlike the unalienable rights listed in our Declaration of Independence, a right to “health care” is not self-evident. The rights to life, liberty, and property ownership (or “pursuit of happiness”) are endowed by our Creator—not the AMA or the government. These rights belong equally to all. My right to liberty does not diminish yours.

“Health care” is not like that. Speaking against the Resolution, AMA delegate Dr. Ralph Kristeller of New Jersey correctly asserted that health care is a responsibility of each individual. People must develop good health habits of diet, exercise, avoiding substances that harm the mind and body, and avoiding risky behavior. Getting early screening for deadly diseases is also the responsibility of the person who would gain most by early detection—the patient. Seeking professional counsel—and following the advice—is also the patient’s responsibility.

Calling health care a human right is clearly misleading. It is generally taken to mean medical services and payment for these services.

Before Big Government entered the medical arena in the U.S., there were many independent physicians in every town. In the 1950s, an office visit was $10, and the doctor earned a good living. When a child became ill, parents knew where to go for help, and payment was a secondary consideration. Many doctors waited for payment or, knowing the family, gave the services for free. Hospitals were local institutions, established by the town fathers. They were operated and staffed by well-trained doctors and nurses, who took part in helping the medical schools train the next generation of professionals. Charity fundraisers and robust volunteer services kept the hospitals places where kindness was the rule. Medical care was local, and the federal government had no role.

In 1965, with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, the huge infusion of taxpayer dollars caused an explosion in the cost of hospitalizations, and the commoditization of medical services ensued. MBAs instead of retired physicians took over the administration of hospitals, and today they command seven-figure salaries. Electronic medical records became a vehicle for exploiting the system as well as for attempts to control rampant fraud. Today, big hospital conglomerates are buying up independent medical practices to harness the revenue and thus control what the doctors do for their patients.

Once a service, paid for by somebody else, is declared a “right,” it becomes immediately obvious that it cannot be an unlimited right, but only a claim on those services deemed appropriate by authorities or planners. Nor is everyone equal. Everything that is given to some must first be taken from someone else. My “right” to “health care” diminishes your right to liberty—such as your right to use your own earnings to buy a medical service you need to preserve your own life.

Medical services may be necessary for those who are ill, but food, clothing, and shelter are necessary for all. If these were declared to be rights, it would mean everyone provide food, clothing, and shelter for every American: socialism in every part of the economy. How much food? How lavish a wardrobe? How big a house? And how much medical service can a citizen demand from others? Constant conflict and eventual shortages and impoverishment are guaranteed.

Instead of discussing how we can best serve those who cannot pay for their own medical care, we are increasingly vilifying medical professionals who don’t provide what the government prescribes.

A better Resolution for the AMA would be to educate the public about the fact that health care is first and foremost an individual responsibility, and to expose the disastrous ramifications of declaring it to be a right. It is now considering whether to announce that this man-made political entitlement is a newly discovered “right.”


Dr. Alieta Eck, M.D. graduated from the Rutgers College of Pharmacy in NJ and the St. Louis School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.

She studied Internal Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ and has been in private practice with her husband, Dr. John Eck, MD in Piscataway, NJ since 1988.

In 2003, they founded the Zarephath Health Center, a free clinic for the poor and uninsured that currently cares for 300-400 patients per month utilizing the donated services of volunteer physicians and nurses.

Dr. Alieta Eck is working to enact NJ S94 in New Jersey whereby physicians would donate their time caring for the poor and uninsured in non-government free clinics in exchange for the State providing medical malpractice protection within their private practices. She is convinced that this would relieve taxpayers of much of the Medicaid burden currently consuming 1/3 of the NJ budget.

Alieta Eck has been involved in health care reform since residency and believes that the government is a poor provider of medical care. Dr. Alieta Eck testified before the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress in 2004 about better ways to deliver health care in the United States.

Dr. Alieta Eck then testified against Obama’s health care plan at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in 2011.

In 2013, Dr. Alieta Eck put her name forward in the Republican primary race to win the party’s nomination for a temporary seat on the U.S. Senate. Confident she could make a change in Washington she ran on a platform of shrinking the federal government and repealing ObamaCare – President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Despite losing her bid for Senate, Dr. Alieta Eck pushed forward, running for Congress in 2014 but, lacking enough votes to win the predominantly Democratic 12th Congressional District, came second to Bonnie Watson Coleman, the first African-American female member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation in state history.

Dr. Eck is a long time member of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and in 2009 joined the board of AAPS, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which advocates the preservation of the  practice of private medicine.

In addition, she serves on the advisory board of Christian Care Medi-Share, a faith-based medical cost sharing Ministry and is a member of Zarephath Christian Church. She and her husband John have five children, one who is now an ophthalmology resident in St. Louis, MO.

Additional links:

http://health.usnews.com/doctors/alieta-eck-482714

https://www.facebook.com/eckforcongress/

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