It’s health care, it’s a good thing: Thoughts on health care, religion, and politics

Despite my best attempts, I still feel rather ignorant about the health care debate, although I have found the White House’s site helpful for information. The issue is just so huge and complicated that it’s hard to have a strong opinion one way or the other for me in terms of reform. What I do know is that the system is broken, that 40 million Americans are uninsured, that private health insurance is expensive for individuals and businesses, and that we need some sort of reform to make health care accessible and affordable to Americans. How do we go about doing that? Well, that’s what I do not feel informed nor educated enough to have a strong opinion about. While I knew this was a tricky issue, I have been surprised by people’s reactions, not necessarily at how divisive of an issue it has become, but rather at how much anger it has provoked from some people. I agree with NPR’s Brian Unger that the Health Care Debate Is Making Me Sick. It’s HEALTH CARE people, we are talking about a social issue that is intended to HELP people. How evil can it really be?

While we might disagree about the details of reform, I am stunned some people seem to think we don’t need reform. And I’m stunned so many people are getting angry at Obama – disapproval and disagreement are one thing, but anger! It’s hard to argue against the need for reform – and if you are arguing against the need for reform then you need to take a moment to realize what a privileged position from which you are speaking. If you have a good and affordable health insurance plan great, but please recognize that you are in a position of privilege and that 40 million Americans are denied this same coverage. It is our responsibility to do something about that. Obama is putting his reputation on the line by trying to fix the system; the easy way out would be to sit around and do nothing, just let it stay broken. He’s taking a risk not to win popularity or favor but because he feels it’s the right thing to do.

I grew up in a part of the country where I thought the words Christian and Republican were synonymous. When I went to college I suddenly had this realization that I was not a Republican at all. While I tend to be a bit more fiscally conservative than some Democrats, from a social perspective I am on the left. And as a Christian I am often perplexed by the conservatives’ response to government socialized issues. It is a Christian attitude to take care of the poor, to give, to be generous, etc. etc. etc. Thus it is my belief that as citizens it is our responsibility to ensure that the government creates standards which allow for underprivileged citizens to take care of themselves. Our current system is screwed up and inhibits access to health care for those who do not fit within the middle class, and increasingly so even middle class families are struggling to afford health care. While I’m not necessarily in favor of socialized health care all together, I do think it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that all tax-paying, working citizens have access to affordable health care. If that means public options, taxes, tort reform, subsidies, etc. then so be it. And it is refreshing to see that some Progressive Religious Groups Are Lining Up Behind Obama on Heath Care.

Woman compares Obama to Hitler at Town Hall meeting with Barney Frank (more info here). This video will make you smile, Barney Frank is amusing.

For conservatives (and Christians) to refer to Obama’s plan as a Nazi plan, spread rumors about death panels, etc. serves no other purpose than to ignite fear and misunderstanding among citizens. Such accusations are anything but Christ-like and completely distract people from the root of the issue: Americans can’t afford health care! The current rhetoric has been so twisted around one would think health care were an evil thing Obama is attempting to force upon citizens against their will rather than a policy intended to HELP PEOPLE! Yes, health care is a GOOD THING, it is not evil nor are Obama’s proposals. It is tricky, complicated, complex, and will require much negotiation and compromise of course, but the goal for both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals ought to be the same: find a way to make health care affordable and accessible for all citizens. I particularly loved this piece – The GOP’s Misplaced Rage – from conservative economist Bruce Bartlett reminding Republicans that their rage is misplaced – Obama isn’t the one they should be so angry with, it’s Bush. The article offers a lot of historical contextualization about the economy, taxes, recession, and health care.

” Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting.” – Bruce Bartlett

Andrew Sullivan also offers some interesting thoughts and perspectives from conservatives on the health care debate in his article Conservativism and Health Care. In particular, he explains why it was different to oppose stronger government involvement in health care in 1993 than it is to do so now. Quoting David Frum, he writes that the status quo means:

“(1) flat-lining wages, (2) exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs and thus immense pressure for future tax increases, (3) small businesses and self-employed individuals priced out of the insurance market, and (4) a lot of uninsured or underinsured people imposing costs on hospitals and local governments. We’ll have entrenched and perpetuated some of the most irrational features of a hugely costly and under-performing system, at the expense of entrepreneurs and risk-takers, exactly the people the Republican party exists to champion.”

By no means are Republicans and conservatives the only ones opposing health care reform (I’m sure we’re all aware of the Blue Dogs), but recently liberal CEO and founder of Whole Foods has stirred up a lot of controversy (and even calls to boycott Whole Foods) with his recent Wall Street Journal article The Whole Foods Alternative to Obama Care. While it is an interesting perspective and offers some good suggestions I don’t think it is enough. I feel it is still more beneficial to those already insured and doesn’t do much for those who can’t afford insurance. Overall it’s an oversimplification to a very complex problem. He’s also too optimistic about “we should all be able to live healthy ’til our 90s”. While many diseases are (to a degree) preventable with proper diet and lifestyle, many healthy, active people still get cancer (my mother), have strokes, give birth to unhealthy babies (I was born with heart complications). It’s an oversimplication and overly idealistic perspective to say cancer can be prevented by healthy lifestyles. While a healthier population would reduce the cost of healthcare, this view is dismissive of the absolute need for more cancer, heart, diabetes, etc research. It’s more complicated than lifestyle and we have not found cures!

I’ll end on a lighter note by sharing this article from The Onion, which would be so funny if it weren’t so true: Congress Deadlocked Over How Not to Provide Healthcare.

Image Credits: Reality Check

5 thoughts on “It’s health care, it’s a good thing: Thoughts on health care, religion, and politics

  1. You're forgetting one thing, the people who initially questioned this reform (and yes, questioning your government is fine, as the anti-Iraq War protesters showed), were called "Nazis" and Un-American by leaders in Congress. It's a double standard. You cannot say that you disagree with people shouting these things at town hall meetings and then completely ignore the policy maker comments.There are certain things that will clearly happen with any of the bills being put out there by the Democrats. For one, healthcare will become a government business. Even if there are co-ops, the language in the Energy & Commerce Committee bill states that the government will set mandatory standards and prices for minimum coverage that all companies must follow. Secondly, if there is a public option, there will be an elimination of competition over a matter of years. It's simple math really, companies cannot compete against an entity that is not required to make a profit. Lastly, the President has not endorsed any of the bills but has made a promise that does not show up in any of them, the fact that you can keep your health insurance if you like it. Sure you can keep it, but if the company you work for finds it to be cheaper to drop coverage (and i what case would it not be cheaper?) then you have to move to the government plan.


  2. I have absolutely no problem with citizens questioning the government and I take issue with leaders of Congress calling such people Nazis. It's not a double standard – I think both are unacceptable. Thank you for your other comments. I do not see why a bill setting mandatory standards and prices for minimum coverage is a bad thing? The government has done this with other private sector industries such as FCC regulation of cable/phone companies. I do not know if it is a good or bad thing (in terms of health care) and would need more information to make such a decision (as I said at the beginning of my post – despite efforts, I still feel uninformed about a lot of this), but at first glance i don't understand why that is a bad thing. Regarding the public option, I don't disagree with you and nowhere did I advocate for a public option, although I'm also unconvinced that it's all together a bad option. There will always be unintended consequences to all policy changes, but to totally throw our hands up in the air and say oh well isn't a solution either.


  3. The minimum coverage guidelines have stipulations attached to them that would mean the government could underprice their coverage to get more people on to their plan.My biggest worry is your first complaint, that you feel uninformed. The bills are uninformative, plain and simple. They will reference something in another obscure bill and then you have to go look that up. At some point it all flows together does not make a lot of sense. I guess it's the way bill writing goes, but in such an issue as healthcare, it should be clear what will actually happen.


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