Laura Hershey: Writer, Poet, Activist, Consultant Rotating Header Image

My Proposed Formula for Health Care Rationing

In response to my recent article in U.S. News & World Report, and to some of my blog posts, several people have pointed out this indisputable fact: Resources being finite, some form of rationing is inevitable and necessary. I agree.

So I propose that we start freeing up dollars to improve and expand medical and support services, by denying health care funds for the following:

  • Any health care executive, manager, or administrator whose salary exceeds the average salary of a government or nonprofit executive, manager, or administrator overseeing a similarly-sized operation
  • Any health care system employee whose duties do not directly benefit health care consumers
  • Insurance company shareholders
  • Long-term residential institutions such as nursing facilities, large group homes, “state schools,” and intermediate care facilities which confine people needing support services
  • Profiteering manufacturers and vendors of medical supplies and durable medical equipment, i.e., those whose profit margins significantly exceed the profit margins of other products with similar research/development and manufacturing costs
  • Physicians and other providers who refuse to serve lower-paying consumers
  • Physicians and other providers who discriminate against some health care consumers based on age, disability, sexual orientation, language, cultural background, or other arbitrary factors

Who else would you add to this list? Feel free to post a comment with your recommendations.

Until we make the cuts suggested above, I will oppose any and all current or proposed denials of health care based on disability, age, income, job status, insurance coverage (or lack thereof), pre-existing conditions, immigration status, or other arbitrary factors.

Health care should not be a privilege, nor a commodity. Health care is a human right. Let’s not forget that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, co-authored by Eleanor Roosevelt, supported by the United States, and adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, included the following statement in Article 25:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”



  1. Amy Robertson says:

    The lawyers who represent any of the above.

  2. Alison Hymes says:

    State hospital directors and senior management, any psychiatrist who cooperates with forced drugging of people with psychiatric labels, any professor/scholar who works to provide rationales for deprivation of equal civil rights of people with any disabililty, all members of Compassion and Choices and the Hemlock Society, all supporters of the Oregon Health plan for poor people with cancer, just to name a few…. 🙂

  3. Kathy says:

    I don’t always agree that we have a legal right or entitlement to other people’s money. And, that is what you are saying. You and others have a legal right to have money taken from their income and redistributed for purposes that you believe are “rights” or “entitlements”. What else is a right? My right to take what from whom when I want to? Remember, your rights mean that somebody else pays for your right your entitlement. I don’t always believe this to be true. We are not a socialist or communist country. There are people that have and have not in all countries. American vast prosperity and wealth are are contributable to her economic freedom and free market principles. What happens when incomes are reduced as they are now? There are no successful wealthy people to tax any more and suddenly your government decides that your entitlements are changed too.

  4. Kowalski says:

    Thank you, that was spot on!

  5. Marsha says:

    I find your comment very interesting. If I correctly understood what you wrote, you said that people who are poor/disabled/elderly/children are not necessarily entitled to money from the public coffers….money that comes from the pockets of individual taxpayers.
    Think about all the people and places that don’t carry the stigma that is somehow attached to people of low income, or who have disabilities, etc. and who nonetheless receive our tax dollars. For instance, every member of Congress, the President and his/her administration, ambassadors, corporate execs who received bailout money, researchers at universities and private companies, (and bullets and guns and warheads and pollutants and toxic chemicals) and on and on.
    Nothing makes the second group intrinsically more valuable as human beings, and thus somehow more worthy of our tax dollars.
    Or another way to look at it is that the “entitlements” you speak of put hardly any money into the hands and pockets of people who are low income….rather all those dollars go to pay for all the social workers, doctors, therapists, bean counters, landlords, grocery store owners,and millions of other workers who provide goods and services to people who are older, younger, disabled, poor, etc.

    So, actually, the people you might consider as “takers” are really the people responsible for keeping untold number of other people, including public officials, employed. We should be doing everything we can to assure they have the basic rights enumerated by Eleanor Roosevelt…after all, it’s good for the economy!

  6. Alison Hymes says:

    Most people on disability or age entitled social security and medicare paid into the system through taxes for many years. It’s an insurance program that people paid hefty portions of their income into in the expectation of being insured, not a transfer of taxes from the able and young to PWD and elderly. In fact healthy young people have paid less taxes in general than older folks did as the tax rates have gone down considerably over the years. And exactly why is AIG entitled to tax dollars more than individual citizens who pay taxes?

  7. Maria Reina says:

    What is “other people’s money”? how do people make money? Many people make money adding a sum to the price of services that we all need, we all contribute to their wealth. If these people providing essential services to all of us, organize themselves into an oligopoly, we remain helpless. They charge the money they want, and give the services they want. Wake up, America!

  8. Rahnee Patrick says:

    Essentially, Kathy, the right is the right to access critical health services, without punishment. The fact of the universe is that all humans need support. Do you refine your own oil for the vehicles you drive or ride? Are you shipping it on your own boats, pumping it from your own land? Do you purify your own water with your own hands? If you do not or cannot, should we withhold water from you?
    Medication, medical treatment, people who understand the human body are like water, essential to survival of all humans, including people with disabilities. How is it that you are entitled to certain goods and services (water, oil, police and fire, emergency services) that you, your and my ancestors, friends, enemies and I have produced through ingenuity, money, blood, sweat and tears but when a new entitlement of an essential good and service, e.g. health services is proposed, you balk?
    Unfortunately, the issue is not about the limits to the monetary wealth of individuals. The issue is about the limits of the human race: we are not perfectly running machines that need no maintenance. We need the land where we live, clean water, fresh air, medicine, repair to our teeth, skin and organs. If I do not have my health, how can I serve you or your family at a restaurant, the fire department, or as a manager of a grocery store? How can my mind, my talents ensure my sisters’ children, indeed, everyone’s children live on this Earth for years to come? I, a person with a disability, am entitled to healthcare just as much others are entitled to my monetary wealth and services.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.