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April 2017

Social Justice and the Provision of Health Care for Poor Children

Author Affiliations
  • 1Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Office of the President, Montefiore Health System, Bronx, New York
JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(4):316-317. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.4567

Is the provision of health care to underserved children an act of social justice? The answer to this question may seem self-evident, but many things we do are worthwhile and even laudable without being just. If we desire, therefore, to address this question directly, we should begin with what we mean by the term social justice.

Justice inhabits that realm of thought that governs what people are owed, what they are due. It is the idea that individuals should receive that to which merit entitles them—no more, no less. And it is worth noting that whether we focus our inquiry at the level of the individual or that of the state, we encounter certain features that remain central to the very idea of justice; these are the notions of proportionality, intentionality, and merit.

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