Quality Health Coverage for All Americans? Distinctions of Deservingness in the Health Care Reform Debates
29 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 6 Apr 2010
Date Written: March 30, 2010
From the shouts of 'You lie!' and 'Keep the government out of my Medicare!' to threats of 'Obama death panels' and promises to assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans', health care reform is the foremost social policy debate in the U.S. in the wake of the global economic crisis. Certainly the contemporary debates around health care reform in the United States are debates about the scope and size of government, partisan politics, and race in America. But they are also debates about deservingness who deserves what from whom, how and why? In this paper I use interpretive methods to map the lines of deservingness and undeservingness in the current health care reform debates, paying particular attention to the ways in which gender, race, class, age and citizenship status construct these distinctions of deservingness. Drawing from a variety of sources from across the spectrum of news media to legislation, the congressional record and presidential statements to interest group publications and citizen responses, I uncover sites of contestation and sites of agreement about where these lines of deservingness are drawn. Having established the cartography of deservingness in health care reform, I speculate on what this might mean for the politics of health care reform in the United States and for the social citizenship of those groups marked as especially deserving or undeserving.
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