The rise of mass consciousness, a uniquely modern phenomenon, has resulted in the proliferation of an idealistic, moral view of the world. It has been the most singular achievement of modernity. Nowhere has its impact, its peculiar stamp, been more evident or more pronounced than in politics.
It's ironic that a totally secularized society, inaugurated by the Age of Reason and Nietzsche's fateful pronouncement that God is dead, should produce its own brand of religion – call it humanism, or progressivism, or simply a belief in the possibility of a better, more equitable world – but such has been the case; there's no other way to call it.
Just think. Practically every single advance in the area of human rights, every significant social gain in the past century or so, has been won with "universal morality" serving as its banner, its call to arms. Indeed, one could well argue that the theory of (human) rights, the centerpiece of modern political theory, is a descendant of this peculiarly moral, quasi-religious point of view, its more or less natural consequence.
Why rights? Because "rights," properly understood, represent an extension of the moral equivalence and worthiness of persons, the incarnation of that worthiness through its multifarious manifestations; they encapsulate and make concrete the morality of persons. Which is why progress in the area of human rights represents real progress, there being no other kind.
The topic at hand presented an anomaly of sorts because unlike other rights, universal healthcare is contingent in a very real sense on the material conditions of a given society: in a nutshell, a society must be prosperous enough to be able to afford it. Since human rights, especially those pertaining to the moral equivalence and worthiness of persons, are unconditional, it follows that we can't speak of universal healthcare as a right.
Hence the needed corrective, recasting universal healthcare in terms of benefits and social or societal obligation to provide such to each and every member – again with an all-important proviso that the society is prosperous enough to carry out the program. Now we must show that the obligation in question is in essence a moral type of obligation, and that the cause of universal healthcare isn’t diminished from having been "demoted" thus from its ill-conceived status as a right. Once done, we can still hold on to the idea of universal healthcare as a moral imperative, though contextualized this time to a particular society – namely, a society which presumably can afford it.