Rights and Health: Democracy’s Dilemma


Program Description:

This presentation will explore the concept of democracy (majority rule) with the concepts of individual rights. The US system of government has a built in tension between the rights of individuals and democracy. It has generally favored individual rights. Most of the developed world, including statements by the United Nations, notes the importance of health to both individual rights as well as the common good. The presentation will also describe the health status of the US as compared with those in other countries, providing data on costs, access, and quality of health care in the US in contrast to other developed countries. McGrath makes the argument that our form of democracy, democratic pluralism, provides a difficult path to universal health care but that like education, the importance of health makes it important to revisit the notion of health as a positive right in the United States.


Robert McGrath

Robert McGrath is an assistant professor in the department of health management and policy at the University of New Hampshire. His research focuses on health care disparities in vulnerable populations. Specifically, he examines how measurement and data quality affect information used for policies affecting vulnerable populations. He currently serves as the director for the New Hampshire Health Information Center which oversees the New Hampshire Connects for Health Project with the New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice and in conjunction with the New Hampshire Citizen's Health Initiative. The goal of the project is to encourage the electronic exchange of clinical information between all health providers in the state to reduce medical error, increase patient quality, and enhance the efficiency of the health system. He also serves as a policy analyst for the New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice and remains engaged with work on state based health data and health data systems.

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