Radical health care

While I’ve been in the States I’ve been learning more about the whole health care issue, talking with friends and family, and basically getting information that I haven’t been able to get across the ocean. A couple days ago when Scott Brown won the senatorial seat in Massachusetts, some of my friends were very upset and others were overjoyed. In one of the news articles I read following, it was stated:

President Barack Obama advised fellow Democrats against trying to jam a health care bill through Congress after taking a devastating hit from the loss of a Senate seat. He said Wednesday it’s time to come together around a bill that can draw Republican support, too. (NPR)

So while I sympathise with my more liberal friends, isn’t this more in line with what we want? It does not do for the entire country to be ruled by half; the Independent in me sees that as being one of the main grudges Democrats had during the Bush years. But of course, the pendulum has swung the other way and now the same thing is happening, just in reverse. This is why I strongly dislike the two-party system.

Anyhow, back on the issue of health care: not only would it be better to have a bipartisan plan than one pushed through an uncontested majority (we are a democracy! everything must be contested), but I came across a very interesting observation in an editorial from the New York Times:

The basic question is simple: Should health care be a basic right or is it a privilege for those who can afford it? Rush says it’s a privilege — pay or die — and for his colonoscopy, they use a golden probe with a diamond tip, but most Americans agree that health care is basic, like education or decent roads or clean water.

Holy Scripture would seem to point us in that direction. And yet the churches, so far as I can see, have chosen to stay aloof from this issue. Churches that feed the hungry and house the homeless dare not offend the conservatives in their midst by suggesting that we also tend the sick.

I have pointed out to friends and family that I am in favour of a public, or national, option for health care (though admittedly without the opt-out fee). As a graduate student I would not be able to afford health insurance, and even if I could, I would be denied because of pre-existing conditions. How would I be treated for my rheumatoid arthritis, let alone my other health issues? As it is now, I am gladly and willingly living in a ‘socialist’ country where all of my prescriptions are provided for, and until I know I can get the care that I need in my home country, it may be better for me to stay in the UK.

And then, over at the Church Whisperer blog, Blake Coffee was discussing the three temptations in the wilderness for the Church, and what those might be. One of them is the ‘Christianisation’ of government, the pull to build political power to create a more comfortable world for Christians to live, work, go to school. ‘Comfort, after all,’ he said, ‘is not what followers of Christ signed on for. Just think what might be accomplished if we took all of the energy and resources we spend on political gain and devoted it to missions and ministry.’

And it occurred to me: wouldn’t it be radical indeed if the Church did provide for the sick? For people like me, and several of my friends, all of us having pre-existing (and expensive) health conditions? Despite being hardworking and capable citizens, none of us would get the care we need. We are certainly not alone in our numbers. For others, too; it would be a ministry that was in fact the Good Samaritan, and would not turn away those who are in need. Of course, there is the question of resources and funds (I am not the person to talk to about money), but it is something to think about.