Yet, I suppose the temptation was too great and the topic did come up once when I was asked if I was still glad that I'd voted for President Obama. My answer lead to two follow-up questions, both of which were asked with utmost incredulity:
- Even with respect to cap and trade?
- Even with respect to healthcare?
But my inquisitors don't read my blog--just like I don't read their emails speculating about where the president might really have been born--so let me offer a couple of observations. Regarding the first follow-up question, as I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog, though I don't believe the Bible to be the final arbiter on the subject, I can highly recommend its commandment to replenish the earth. While the history of civilization suggests we're more inclined to rape and pillage the world we live in, the least we can do is to put limits on our actions and minimize their effects. Apparently, however, there are a great number of people in the world who don't believe global warming is caused by our rampant consumption of natural resources.
If anything, I'm even more emotional about the second follow-up question--so emotional, in fact, that I'm willing to offer this bitter pill and risk offending others: Anyone who is working to derail our chance at making healthcare available to all, cannot in good conscience call him or herself Christian. I base this assertion on the following claim Jesus made:
Isn't it clear that Christ would have us minister to all the sick? But even if I didn't believe in His gospel, I would still be an ardent supporter of any reasoned attempt to make heathcare available to all. Why? Because: 1) I have empathy for people and 2) I know that despite the best of intentions and plans, human beings--through no fault of their own--occasionally find themselves in the most precarious of circumstances. Here is how it can happen.
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
- Despite the messages of their schmaltzy commercials, the objective of most insurers is to make money, not to help people. They will rescind policies any time it makes economic sense to do so. The possibility of losing public trust is all that stands in the way of capricious behavior on the part of insurers. When they get in trouble, policy rescission becomes an integral part of their business strategies. And it happens at the worst possible time--when a health condition has been diagnosed and the policy is most needed.
- Insurers occasionally go bankrupt, in which case policyholders with pre-existing conditions are left with few--if any--options.
- For young people just starting out, health insurance premiums can be prohibitively expensive. My son, Matthew, can't get his wife covered by his graduate school's insurance policy due to university budget cuts. The cost of private insurance is over half his take-home pay.
- Coverage can change or be eliminated with a boardroom decision made by an insurer or a group policy sponsor. If you're diabetic (or suffer from any range of chronic ailments) and you lose coverage, where do you go today for healthcare?
- And at this time in which an unprecedented number of people are unemployed, how can anyone say they're safe from a loss of coverage? Of course, there is COBRA, but in the event that coverage was curtailed due to job loss, who can afford to pay COBRA premiums (not to mention mortgage payments) without a job?
- During any temporary loss of insurance, the development of pre-existing conditions can limit people's insurance options and even render them uninsurable. Chances are by the time a typical child becomes an adult, he or she has undergone a surgical procedure or drug regimen that can be indicative of a pre-existing condition. Someone I care about dearly was recently denied coverage because of a drug regimen prescribed to her that might have indicated the occurence of OCD.
At the very least, we should be engaged in a thoughtful conversation about healthcare and avoid screaming epithets and clever sound bites at each other. Before derailing the effort, let's put a face to the problem and think of what we might do if one of our own children were sick and uninsured. But as a final word, I'm going to repeat my earlier assertion: Anyone who is working against the effort to bring healthcare to the least of these, cannot in my mind be called a Christian.