Electing Faithfulness Part 7: Consult Your Doctor—The Health Care Issue

[back to part 6: Abortion]

“Consult Your Doctor”
“Big Bandaids and What To Do with Them”
“Man, do we have to talk about healthcare again?”

When the new Health Care bill was passed this past summer, I offered thoughts on that that you can view at the post: Big Bandaid.  Rather than revisit the entire post, I’ll recap some of the major points:

The teachings of the Christ are for us to take care of the poor and needy, and this combined with his miraculous healings stresses the importance of looking after the medical wellness of others (among the other things the miracles did, of course).  The examples of giving and caring shown by Christ and his followers in the New Testament demonstrate that the optimum way to do this is by individuals and communities actively caring for the “orphans and widows,” those society neglects.

No matter what time and condition we are living in, one of the things “The Good Samaritan” tells us is that a Christian should be willing to pay a sum to ensure that their neighbor may be taken care of.  That being said, this does not mean, of course, that any legislation passed that raises taxes in an effort to take care of more people will be wise and effective. To give liberally (and yes, I mean liberally) must also be paired with discretion.  And a tax is not really a giving, but a taking.  A gift is not a gift if it is extracted from me once a year and I don’t know what is done with it.

However, I believe socialized medicine can succeed.  We see examples of that in Canada and Scandanavia.  Do these systems have their flaws?  Yes.  Some Canadians are coming to America for medical care, particularly because of the long waiting for surgery.  But some Americans are also flying to third world countries for medical treatment.  But even though I am tolerant of socialized medicine, I am not convinced it’s right for America.  We have a low view of economic responsibility.  Our problem is a combination of corrupt pharmaceutical companies, corrupt patients, corrupt insurance companies, corrupt doctors, corrupt government officials, and neglectful churches.  So a bill won’t fix our nealthcare ills.  At least, not alone.

Barack Obama promised Americans he would not raise taxes on those making less than 200,000$.  The new healthcare bill makes that statement a lie.  Nancy Pelosi, when prompted to describe the bill, told America that we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it.  That would be comparable to taking a pill to find out what it does to you.  This kind of action in Washington should concern us, regardless of our political leanings.

Ron Paul released a statement about the bill, making a point that the healthcare bill is a mandate. “The fundamental hallmark of a free society should be the rejection of force,” he said.  “In a free society, therefore, individuals could opt out of “Obamacare” without paying a government tribute.”

After all, it is a mandate.  The mandate makes us pay a tax and makes us enroll in a healthcare plan.  So here we are at a crossroads.  Because, as Stephen Colbert pointed out, if this is a Christian nation, and we should create laws to mandate Christian morality, then we must create laws that make us take care of the sick.  If we recognize that she is not a Christian nation, but see her as the Babylonic empire that she is, then we anticipate that she cannot fulfill that call, not with as much potential as God’s people can, if they are obedient to the call.  But Jesus told us to render our taxes to Caesar, not because he uses our money wisely, but because it is his place to tax us and use the funds for the well-being of the people.  Jesus did not exclude us from addressing grievances about the manner or reason we are taxed, but he sure didn’t make it a significant component of his ministry either.

So, has it been that Babylon placed this yoke upon us because of our own disobedience?  Is it proper for me to call the healthcare legislation persecution, or is it a natural consequence of our culture’s failure to place our values in the right place?  These questions come to my mind in such a time, and I do not have the answers.

I do know that I shouldn’t assume that the bill will solve everything: I am still tasked with caring for the needy.  Of course, another important thing to understand is that the bill Obama passed didn’t actually socialize healthcare—it further corporatized it.  Ron Paul explains that the bill “does not establish a Canadian-style government-run single payer health care system.  Instead, it relies on mandates forcing every American to purchase private health insurance or pay a fine.  It also includes subsidies for low-income Americans and government-run health care ‘exchanges'[…]Large insurance and pharmaceutical companies were enthusiastic supporters of many provisions of this legislation because they knew in the end their bottom lines would be enriched.”

If the government is contracting out large healthcare companies and setting all the standards for medicine, what about people who wish to practice alternative medicines?  We may claim we are respecting the right to healthcare, but are we respecting the right to choose a type of healthcare?  I don’t feel comfortable with this in an age when everybody wants a pill to fix everything.  This is another thought to consider.

It could be argued that Ron Paul believes in free health care, even more than most democrats do.  In democratic socialism, taxation from all citizens is distributed to medical programs.  We have some of this.  So any medical care you receive from such a program is not free, but paid for by a percentage of everyone’s pocket, including the recipient.  Now, if someone gives you health care and says to you, “hey, it’s on me,” then it is free, because it is entirely the gift of the granter.  Ron Paul not only believes in that, but has done so as a doctor.

For years, Ron Paul served as an OB and gave free medical care to those who could not afford it.  He doesn’t mention it much, because he’s not the kind of guy who toots his own horn.  In 1968 his new partner, Jack Pruett, was told that if he worked at Paul’s practice he would not preform abortions and he would not accept federal aid.  As Paul described it, “we will see all Medicare and Medicaid patients free of charge, and they will be treated just like all of our other patients, but we’re not going to charge them and accept federal funds.”  So, even when he could have just let a govt. program use tax money to pay for patients with Medicare, he took on the burden himself.  Of course, it was a small town, and many people wold pay him in other ways, bringing him chickens and vegetables and whatnot.  Turns out Paul was like the Atticus Finch of baby delivering.

When Paul ran for public office and won, instead of spending his weekends going to politician parties at expensive lodges, he flew back home and helped out with the practice.  The man knows of personal sacrifice more than many self-proclaimed armchair socialists.  So this isn’t a guy who says, “You can’t afford health care?  Not my problem!”  He’s a guy who says, “I’ll volunteer to cover it for you; I just don’t want anyone else to have to pay for it unless they volunteer to.”  Even at the danger of propping up a man as an icon, I submit that with more men like that, we probably wouldn’t need Medicare.

[Here is a link to the article about Ron Paul’s history as an OB, including the interview with his old partner.]

Ron Paul does not want to get rid of Medicare or Medicaid.  He merely wants money given to those programs to stay in those programs only and be used appropriately.

He knows that health care is about decent doctor-patient relationships, not a vast, impersonal bureocracy that tries to exercise a universal standard that puts pressures on doctors and makes patients compete for care.  He wants to help those who have terminal illnesses by exempting them from various taxes.  Although he wants patients to receive justice from malpractice suits, he does not want to bankrupt doctors and caregiving agencies in doing so.

In this debate from last fall, Ron Paul was asked what should happen to a man who collapses in the street and has no healthcare.  Dr. Paul explained that a grown man should be able to take his own risks rather than expect the government to do everything for him but, to be fair, did not answer the question yet.  When pressed further, he was asked, “should this man die?”  A number in the crowd cheered that the man should die, denouncing the teaching of the Good Samaritan and thus booing God.  But Dr. Paul answered and said that a caring community would reach out to the man.  In his experience nobody was turned away at his hospital, and networks of caring people took care of one another.  His comments were controversial, but he emphasized that cutting government welfare should not mean people are not taken care of.

I believe in the power of faithful communities.  In another previous post, I examined ways to circumnavigate this ugly machine that can potentially injure the  little man for the benefit of the government and corporations.  Rather than fall prey to large insurance corporations, we can consider healthcare alternatives such as The Health Co-Op and Health Partners A health co-op is to an insurance company what a credit union is to a corporate bank.  They are run by boards of directors elected by members with health plans.  It’s nearly everything that socialized healthcare is, only not government run, which means it’s not centralized, mandated, or limited.  I hope to one day transition to a health co-op.

So I would not feel right voting for a man who wants to see government spending on healthcare slashed unless he exemplified active, selfless caring for people with medical needs.  And I wouldn’t criticize a bill that potentially makes healthcare issues in America unless I showed you an alternative to government mandated, corporatized healthcare.

So if we are going to be forced to purchase insurance, we don’t have to play by the rules of a machine working against us.  For example, what if more churches elected to enter into congregational plans, pooling their resources and “having all things in common” with their health resources as well as others we often share?  This involves a Communitarian approach to healthcare, exhibiting some of the following principles:
“Let us not turn the health-care community into a health industry:
*Sustain the balance between individual rights and social responsibilities
*Warn against the intrusion of commercialism and the managerial imperative
*Preventing disease and promoting health are an integral part of the plan, not afterthoughts.
*We must not treat health care as the social garbage can into which we deposit the ill consequences of our nations problems.
*Cut administrative waste, defensive medicine, lavish promotions and excessive profits before rationing health services.
*Serve the children first [and I would include the yet-to-be-born].”

So what do you think about the bill?
What do you think of Ron Paul’s solution?
And what do you think about this idea of a health co-op?

Stay healthy my friends.  God bless.

[on to part 8: The War on Some Drugs]

One response to “Electing Faithfulness Part 7: Consult Your Doctor—The Health Care Issue

  1. Pingback: Electing Faithfulness: Concluding Thoughts | CALEB COY

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