Doug Jones and Roy Moore on the Issues: Health Care

With the reports about Roy Moore’s alleged sexual peccadillos, we now have even more reasons to repudiate his fitness to represent and serve Alabama as a U.S.  Senator. But despite the indelible image of 32-year-old Roy Moore wooing a 14-year old love object in his tighty whiteys, we really don’t need this image, or the pecadillos, generally, to disqualify him.

By almost any measure for assessing economic growth, social progress, and quality of life in Alabama, the state continues to lag far behind most of the nation. For this reason, the special Senate election in December is not just about whether Alabama Republicans should support Roy Moore, or support their party, at the expense of the nation. The election is also about whether the Republican Party and existing political elites in Alabama have well-served their state, and therefore whether Republicans should support Roy Moore and their party at the expense of Alabama.

Let’s consider health care, where Alabama ranks 47th in the nation, overall, 31st for health care quality, 41st for health care access, and 50th for public health. Perhaps most distressing, especially in a state where Roy Moore and other evangelical Christians focus incessantly on “the right to life” of the unborn child, the infant mortality rate in Alabama ranks last in the nation, with infant mortality in rural counties of the state in some cases approaching the infant mortality rates of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Let’s be clear. Early childhood illness and death is a political problem. Alabama, like many other states, suffers from a rural health crisis of epic proportions.

Doug Jones proposes the following set of positive priniciples for beginning to resolve this crisis: a) health care is a right, not a privilege; b) coverage must meet basic standards that apply to all individuals; c) no woman should be denied reproductive health coverage based on religious baliefs of an employer; and d) quality health care must extend throughout the state, covering rural as well as urban and suburban residents.

By contrast, Roy Moore’s health policy principles are vague and general, with a focus on eliminating socialized medicine, extending tax credits to businesses for employee health care coverage, and relying on churches and charitable organizations to “help the needy and poor.” The insufficiency of this vision would be laughable if it weren’t also so cruel and unncessary.