Yesterday across this great nation, groups of impassioned folks gathered around our country in protest of big government and deficit spending. The large gathering I passed here in Medford (which looked more like a Nascar rally) seemed to be protesting what they called “Obamacare”. It got me thinking.
Most of you know me and know that my political views are often considered more liberal than my peers. But I REALLY try to think for myself and look at things with open eyes and through the lens of Christ. The last few years this has forced me to rethink many things.
I struggle with the open rebellion, especially by folks of faith against health care reform. It seems to me that any system which leaves MILLIONS without healthcare needs to be reconsidered….ESPECIALLY by folks of faith. So I was hoping we could have an intelligent conversation about health care here. Here are some thoughts top start the talk:
Regardless of what you think...this issue IS a moral issue! Christians should be concerned about the good of all individuals. Good health is something we should want everyone to have and health care is one of the ways we maintain good health. And when we look at the world around us, it is also a scarce good—the demand very much exceeds the supply. So figuring out how best to see to it that people get quality health care is a legitimate moral concern, and a real concern for Christians. The way I see it...UNIVERSAL care is the only answer.
No person of good will opposes health care. So, the real issues are MUCH more specific: Who is primarily responsible for the health care of individuals and families? How ought laws and institutions be arranged to make quality health care available to people? How do we encourage innovation in health care? How ought tax and economic policy be arranged to achieve the goal of quality, affordable health care for all who want it?
The argument I hear the most is that it is not the governments job to pay for this! The church should do more! While I agree this would be awesome, it is not happening. The only organization large enough to really make a difference here is our Federal government! Why the sudden uproar? Both parties support Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security without nationwide rallies and revolts??? So they must agree that it is appropriate for the government to play a role in providing for the fundamental needs of its citizens in certain situations, and health care seems to be one of them. In fact, providing health care for citizens who cannot afford it is not only the morally right thing to do, it is the economically smart thing to do since numerous studies and economists have proven that emergency room care and other care for non-insured individuals costs the average American about $1,000 in insurance costs per year. Churches play a role in caring for the needy—but they can only provide charity to the extent that they can and it is a limited role for churches. Yet, I truly believe the government should be a “giver of justice” and providing health care for all Americans seems the right thing to do.
Obviously the new plan is not perfect. There are flaws. As a person of faith, I ALWAYS have to be concerned with the right to life, and the issue of abortion. In the current health care plan, this is a HUGE issue! Is life going to be protected? I think that from what I can tell......this is an area where there has been tremendous misinformation and even deliberate distortion of what is REALLY in the bill. This bill provides for the strict segregation of funds that cover abortions from federal funds. It also requires insurance companies to have an annual audit of this segregation of funds that is overseen by the state Commissioner of Insurance. Our taxes are not really going to be pouring into a thriving abortion culture! In many ways it seems (and I am NOT an expert here) that the dreaded “Obamacare” actually goes further than current law by offering positive economic supports to vulnerable pregnant women so that they may more easily be able to choose life for their unborn children and know that they will have the help they need when their child is born!!!! I believe this will actually DECREASE abortion rates.
This is a divisive issue I know. And it is a BIG DEAL. But let’s at least try and find common ground here. There are some things we can ALL agree on! I assume that all Christians agree that health care is a good thing, and that we should want as many people to be able to have as much of it as they need. All Christians, I think, would agree that there’s a difference between that goal, and a particular political policy intended to achieve that goal. We should want policies that help give rise to more access to good health care for more people, without violating other important Christian principles and creating worse problems. And if we follow two thousand years of Christian teaching, Christians should agree that any law that creates positive incentives for abortion and forces people to (effectively) fund abortion for others, while pretending to do otherwise, is unjust.
p.s. (thanks to the latest Relevant Magazine in providing many of these quotes and stats for me)