Thoughts on health care reform and social workers.
Oppression and inequality can take many shapes and forms and in The United States, we have a lengthy and torrid history of discussions on equality. From same-sex marriage to the overhaul of the health care industry, more than ever is our attention turned toward the distribution of rights and resources.. The current political climate in our nation is riddled with discussion on equal access to resources and the rights to health care. What is perhaps most interesting about the health care debate is that it effects everyone. As a general rule, lack of access to vital resources is generally reserved for the poor, the disenfranchised, and the oppressed. However, now those who hold the power – the white, middle class, employed Americans – are finding that they too are struggling with obtaining proper health care. Marsiglia states that, “oppression often manifests itself as the deprivation among certain groups of needed material resources.” (Marsiglia 2009) He goes on to explain that in order for there to be oppression, one party has to benefit from the oppression. In this case, the health care providers, who are denying people their benefits, make a profit at the expense of an individuals health. It is also stated in the text that the “oppressed are perceived as socially and morally deficient”. Much of the health care debate has centered around the idea that proponents of universal health care are looking for a handout and need to earn their benefits. This cultural script is both incorrect and harmful to the millions of citizens without adequate access to resources. The need for quality health care at an affordable price is a need that transcends race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and age. As future social workers, it is of the utmost importance that we become aware of the problems that face our potential client base. As advocates for social justice, we must be informed and attuned to adverse policies that effect the populations in which we work with. The National Association of Social Workers, or the NASW, has done a great job of rounding up information and resources regarding the current health care debate. This information can be found at:
More information about our current health care climate can be found at:
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Kulis, Stephen & Marsiglia, Flavio F. (2009) Culturally Grounded Social Work: Diversity, Oppression, and Change. Chicago, Illinois: Lyceum Books, Inc.