Government Role in Healthcare Equality

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” Hubert H. Humphrey, United States politician (1911-1978).

When talking about the responsibilities of the government to the people, speakers like to quote Hubert H. Humphrey and his statement that the government should be judged on how it treats its children, the poor, sick, and the elderly. From a political standpoint, I disagree with that quote, as the duties of a government are limited by the power given to it. For example, in a country run by a small government, where all social, medical, and hospice facilities are in private care, the government has little to no say in what these facilities do.

It cannot force its citizens to care for other people. Therefore, the people have no right to demand much from said government. In a more totalitarian state, where the government controls much of the public and even the personal life of an average citizen, the people have the right to demand privileges and treatment from the said government in exchange for the power it had been given (Elahi, n.d.). Social contract theory works this way.

From a medical perspective, however, Humphrey is right. Healthcare is a humanitarian practice, which cannot operate in terms of proportionate care, privilege, and profit. Many nursing philosophers, from Nightingale to Watson, focus on the sacred mission of preserving and promoting health, while self-sustenance is given little priority. Thus, by default, healthcare is meant to be a government-funded project. However, there are degrees to how much funding can healthcare programs get and how is all that money spent.

Universal healthcare would mostly benefit not those who are in real need of medical assistance with no means of paying, but rather those who can afford it (Cohen, n.d.). In the USA, the majority of the people can afford it. Therefore, returning to Humphrey’s initial statement and its implications for the healthcare system, I believe that it should be taken directly – the government must help those who cannot help themselves. Nobody else.


Cohen, A. (n.d.). . Web.

Elahi, M. (n.d.). . Web.

. (2016). Web.

. (2015). Web.

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