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The Place of human rights in American efforts to expand and universalize healthcare

Schimmel, Noam (2013) The Place of human rights in American efforts to expand and universalize healthcare. Human Rights Review, 14 (1). pp. 1-29. ISSN 1874-6306

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s12142-012-0247-x


This article explores the very limited cases historically in the twentieth century when human rights was used in American policy debate as a defending principle for the provision of government-guaranteed universal healthcare. It discusses these cases and examines various reasons as to why this is so, noting the major emphasis in American political culture on negative rather than positive liberty. It examines the shift in political culture from the Roosevelt, Truman, and Johnson eras that embraced social and economic rights and defined them as such to the post-Reagan era when conservative ideologies were ascendant. These ideologies reject the legitimacy of social and economic rights and remain dominant in the United States. It comparatively situates the American refusal to consider universal healthcare a human right with European affirmations of such a right and to those found in various treaties of international law. Finally, it analyzes how Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—while not adopting the rhetoric of human rights does, functionally, enable as a matter of public policy an entitlement to healthcare.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Collections > United States Collection
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2013 15:46
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2019 10:34

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