There is probably no constitutional duty on the government to provide medical care; for the Court recently reaffirmed, in Deshaney, the current Court's view of our Constitution as prohibiting governmental wrongs rather than granting entitlements from the government. We say there is a moral duty to provide medical care to those who cannot afford such care. Where does the moral right to receive basic medical care come from?
The Journal of Law and Health regrets that several errors appear in Volume 4, Issue 2. First, the issue as printed omitted the text for page 126 that begins the discussion of Table 1. The omitted text appears below. At the far left is the "right to health," as exemplified by the World Health Organization.2 0 This view holds that everyone by virtue of being human has a right to health. By "health" is meant the fullest well-being achievable - physical, mental, and social. This end of the spectrum emphasizes equality of outcome, full health for all. The state has a corresponding responsibility to fund the requisite medical care. To my knowledge, however, no society has implemented such a broad standard except perhaps as an ideal to be strived for. At the far right of the Table lies a much narrower right -- equality of opportunity to work for health benefits, with little or no public reallocation of resources. Real rather than rhetorical American policy lies almost at this extreme. Under this view. health coverage depends on work status: Workers and their dependants are expected to get workplace coverage designed by their employers and unions, but with public tax subsidy. 20 Add to note 20 on page 127: Cf. also Finer, Introduction to Keynote Speaker, 4 J. LAW AND HEALTH 121 (1989-1990) (Declaration of Human Rights to similar effect).
Joel J. Finer, Introduction to Keynote Speaker Randall Bovbjerg, Symposium: Ohioans without Health Insurance: How Big a Problem - Are there Solutions, 4 J.L. & Health 121 (1989-1990)