Update: The new Miss USA walked back on her comments about whether affordable health care is a privilege or a right. At the pageant Sunday, Kara McCullough was asked about the topic and she said, "I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege." Her answer got her praise from the conservative right, and caused outrage among the progressive left.
But during an appearance on Good Morning America Tuesday, McCullough took a moment to "clarify" her remarks. She said, "I would like to take this moment to truly just clarify — because I'm a woman, I'm gonna own what I say — I am privileged to have health care, and I do believe that it should be a right. I hope and pray moving forward that health care is a right for all worldwide."
She then added, "I just want people to see where I was coming from. Having a job, I have to look at health care like it is a privilege."
This story was originally published on May 15, 2017.
It's safe to say that health care has been a hot-button issue for a while now. Between the House vote on the Republican health care bill and the multiple town hall meetings where constituents are grilling their representatives, everyone is hyper-aware about this issue. And now, the newly-crowned Miss USA is sparking controversy because of her answer to a question about whether access to health care is a right.
Kara McCullough, who represented Washington, D.C., is a 25-year-old scientist who works at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. For her final question, she was asked, "Do you think that affordable health care for U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege, and why?"
"I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege," McCullough answered. "As a government employee, I’m granted healthcare. And I see firsthand that for one, to have healthcare, you need to have jobs, so therefore we need to continue to cultivate this environment so that we’re given the opportunities to have healthcare as well as jobs for all American citizens worldwide."
In the U.S., people pay a lot more for health care than they do in other Western countries. And despite how much we spend, we have little to show for it. A 2016 study found that about 43% of low-income Americans don't have health insurance because of its costs. In other developed countries that appear in the study, that percentage ranged from 8% to 31% at worst.
Miss USA's answer didn't go over well with many Twitter users, who believe access to affordable health care is a human right.
But of course, there were also people who supported her answer.
McCullough was also asked how she would define "feminism" and whether she considers herself a feminist; she said she prefers to use the term "equalism."
"As a woman scientist in the government, I'd like to transpose the word feminism to equalism," she answered. "I try not to consider myself this diehard, like, I don't really care about men."
Just in case you were wondering, "I don't really care about men" is not what feminism means. In fact, feminists aspire for gender equality in order to benefit both women and men.