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Those Who Lead "Unhealthy" Lives Still Deserve Health Care

There is something about the phrase do the right thing that sets my teeth on edge. Particularly when it comes to health care. The idea that sick people did not do the right thing, and "healthy" people have all somehow earned their health, implies an erroneous deficit. As though sick people deserve whatever they've got coming to them. And they don't deserve affordable, accessible health care because they didn't "earn" it like the good people of this world. Well, call me crazy, but I disagree. People who lead "unhealthy" lives still deserve health care, whatever GOP Rep. Mo Brooks from Alabama might have to say on the matter.

During an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Monday, Brooks opened up about the Republican party's attempt to breathe fresh life into their failing health care bill to replace Obamacare. Tapper questioned Brooks about the controversial amendment to the American Health Care Act (which had to be abandoned in March due to lack of support among House Republicans) which would allow states to opt out of requiring insurance providers to charge the same rates for people who are the same age. The new amendment, authored by Reps. Tom MacArthur and Mark Meadows, would also give insurance providers the opportunity to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage.

And Mo Brooks thinks that makes perfect sense. On account of sick people must have done it to themselves, I suppose.

Brooks told CNN:

It will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.

Of course, Brooks doesn't have to worry about doing the right thing; his health care is protected as a member of the House.

The implication behind Brooks' words appears to be that health insurance is a privilege, rather than a right. That living in the United States, long exalted as the greatest country in the world by its citizens, only protects and cares for the people who are making the "right" choices.

Then there are the "wrong" choices, like people who smoke cigarettes, for instance. Or maybe people whose diets aren't as balanced as they should be, or those who aren't eating the healthiest foods. These people deserve access to health care, obviously. They don't have to earn their right to health care by making certain life choices... what kind of slippery slope would that even look like? First it's the smokers, then people with eating disorders. Then people who don't exercise enough, workaholics with too much stress in their lives, heavy drinkers. The list would go on forever.

That list would naturally not include "good" people, or strong people, the ones who really "deserve" to stay healthy. As though making all the right choices is a talisman against illness. As though cancer hasn't decimated the healthiest of bodies. As though babies born with congenital defects were just asking for it, and therefore their parents should pay through the nose to keep them well. As though the sick chose their lot in life, and the well will somehow stay well forever and should be given extra privileges for it.

So much for being "good."