Healthcare is 'a privilege...not a right': GOP lawmaker
David Edwards and Ron Brynaert
Published: Thursday March 5, 2009

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President Obama is set to convene a summit on reforming healthcare Thursday, and some Republicans are already taking shots. Rep. Zach Wamp (Rep-Tenn) told MSNBC's Tamron Hall that Obama's proposed healthcare plans would be a "fast march to socialism", and that he believes that healthcare is not a right because many choose not to have insurance.

"This is almost class warfare in order for him to be able to say everyone now has health care. Listen, healthcare is a privilege," said Wamp.

The MSNBC anchor was almost taken aback by the "privilege" remark and asked Wamp to explain. "If you have cancer right now do you see it as a privilege to get some treatment?"

"I was just about to say, for some people it's a right but for everyone frankly it's not necessarily a right," he said. "Half the people uninsured today choose to remain uninsured. Half of them don't have any choice, but half of them choose to what's called 'go naked' and take the risk of getting sick. They end up in the emergency room costing you and me a whole lot more money."

After Wamp finished, Hall came very close to implying that the GOP couldn't come up with any viable alternatives.

"As you well know, sir, the administration disputes that," Hall said talking over Wamp as he loudly accused Obama of seeking to cut medicare benefits to pay for the healthcare plan. "But what we're gonna do is let the president speak for himself."

Hall continued, "I am not speaking for [President Obama], I'm just more intrigued by who has a right to have healthcare and who does not."

"We better stand up and defend our system or it's going to go away," Wamp interjected.

"I think that Americans think that we should have alternatives certainly, and that's what we want to hear if they're out there, thank you very much Congressman it's certainly great to talk to you," Hall ended the segment.

Wamp is reportedly considering running for governor of Tennessee, despite recently admitting that he was once addicted to cocaine.

Groups supportive of universal healthcare would dispute Wamp's contention that it isn't a right.

Along with other documents, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, signed by all nations seeking UN membership in 1948, including the US, contains the following article: "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."

An article published late Thursday afternoon by MSNBC included a White House response to some of Wamp's claims.

Domenico Montanaro reports, "'If you go around the country, you won’t hear many people saying, 'I don’t want health care,'' a White House source told MSNBC, adding that the point of today’s summit, in fact, is to bring together people with varying views on the issue. 'Now is the time to reform health care,' the source said, 'No one says, 'We agree with everything.’ …We welcome voices from all sides of the spectrum.'"

This video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast Mar. 5, 2009.

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