Religion & Health Care

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Religion & Health Care

Post  VicarJoe on Thu Jul 16, 2009 7:54 am

This, from yesterday's Washington Post:

"Heal the Sick": Why Public Health Care is a Christian Duty

By Aana Marie Vigen
Professor of Christian Social Ethics, Loyola University Chicago

Does expanding public health care equal "socialism?" Some say "yes," but I say it is simply the Christian thing to do. Of course, it is not exclusively Christian--people of every (and no) faith tradition also see caring for the sick as essential to their religion/philosophy. I applaud secular ethical arguments in favor of public health care: it will benefit (not sink) the U.S. economically, socially, and politically, and it is part of our civic obligation.

But it is also a Christian obligation. I am a "cradle-to-grave" Lutheran. I teach bioethics at a Jesuit University, which provides excellent health care coverage. My spiritual and moral values are shaped by vibrant Christian worship, bible camps, and seminary. But I must have missed something because I can't understand why Protestants and Catholics alike aren't marching in the streets demanding comprehensive health care reform. Thousands denounced President Obama's invitation to Notre Dame. Yet, I don't perceive as many publicly supporting his efforts to extend care to every child, adult, and family.

I understand why Christians of good faith find themselves on both sides of abortion debates, but health care reform? That should be a no-brainer!

---

That's a professor writing? Shudder.

My first reaction to this is: In what way is it a Christian duty to create a Christian state, and is there any truth to the idea that the requirement of charity (as a Christian, I should give alms) extends to politics (as a Christian, I should create a state that gives alms)? Too, is there a way that requiring people to give alms by threatening them with the force of the state renders the act less charitable? Can I force others to be charitable, in the Christian sense? Is it possible that this effort actually undermines Christian charity (as in, "I give plenty of alms when I pay taxes")? Too, I notice that the author wants to say "it's the Christian thing to do" in order to shame Christians into pursuing her politics, while at the same time saying it's not exclusively Christian or anything (since you wouldn't want to imply that there's anything distinctive about Christianity, heaven forbid). That kind of "there's nothing special about the faith, but you're morally required by the faith to be a socialist" argument seems deeply ambivalent to me. The faith, when it's useful in her political program, is a useful tool, but let's not mistake it for a necessary tool or anything. And finally, why, I want to know, is it that using my Christian faith as the basis for creating a new government health care entitlement program doesn't fall into the category of "dang Christians being theocrats"? Why is it that my religious convictions are NOT supposed to inform how the state views pornography or prostitution or abortion or gay marriage, but here they are supposed to make me march in the streets demanding that my Christian faith be enacted into law and enforced?
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VicarJoe

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Good point Joe, I concur

Post  Thereforeiam on Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:54 am

and I also believe (related to your topic) that the only practical start on this is national "preventative" health care for all. It would cover well child care, annual physicals, prostate cancer screening and ob-gyn exams including the pap smear and mammography. The cost would be about another point or two on FICA withholding and the savings would be about 3-5% on health insurance premiums since preventative care would be an exclusion. Should be close to a wash. Administratively, Uncle Sam needs years (or decades) to facillitate properly any major program and this hopefully wouldn't be biting off more than he can chew.

As far as jobs, it would open the door to hundreds of thousands especially in the fields of nurse practitioners and physicians assistants who would perform many of these services.

Think of the numbers of poor people and uninsureds who might have conditions discovered before they become chronic or terminal and the enormous cost savings long term of early diagnosed treatment........billions.
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I like that idea

Post  VicarJoe on Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:08 am

I remember, too, reading an article about how there are huge swaths of the country where the nearest OB-GYN is a hundred miles away, and that's because, more than any other specialty, they pay MASSIVE premiums for malpractice insurance. I bet you could bring health care costs down by 40% if the government insured physicians (like it insures banks) and capped awards. All those specialties that are constantly targeted by lawsuits would become more attractive, and so more affordable too. Of course, that would require lawyers who received tens of millions in contributions from trial lawyers to bite the hand that feeds them.
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Tort reform

Post  Thereforeiam on Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:19 am

is probably the real first step but you and I know Washington is run by lawyers in all three branches of government. We'll see what happens but I can't help being a cynic.
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