Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Medicare for All

Back from two weeks at camp. Being tuned out for two weeks was pleasant, and I am just now catching up to the craziness of the health care town hall meetings. People showing up to prove that their second amendment guns have first amendment rights -- strange and a bit scary. Also, a bit ironic coming in the same week that saw Squeeky Fromme paroled. I would not want to be a Secret Service agent these days.
Despite the vitriolic level of public discourse, it seems to me that a public option in the health insurance field is not hard to imagine. Seniors in the U.S. have had access to one for more than 40 years, and numerous scholarly studies indicate that 80-90 percent of seniors are happy with the system. That compares with studies showing that about 70 percent of Americans are satisfied with their private insurance. Similarly, the Veterans Administration health care insurance system routinely outpaces private insurance in ratings of patient satisfaction.
So, if there is already a proven public option out there, and one that works in conjunction with private Medicare supplemental insurance coverage, why not simply make Medicare available as one option for all Americans regardless of age?
Personally, I would not have the choice, because I am bound by virtue of employment to the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church and the health care benefits that it negotiates on behalf of minister members and families. But for the 50 million Americans who currently have no health care coverage and thus are marginalized in the health care delivery system, why not open Medicare?
Clearly, some basic level of access to health care is a fundamental human right in a society as wealthy as ours. Everywhere Jesus went, healing happened, so concern for health is incumbent upon the church. Thus, in our context, concern for health care insurance reform is also part of our calling. People of good will and faith can certainly disagree on the most effective and efficient path, but the end must be universal access and insurance.
As for me, I say, "Medicare for All." It's so simple it fits on a bumper sticker.


Anonymous said...

Here's a radical idea, especially if you think "some basic level of access to health care is a fundamental human right in a society as wealthy as ours":

Put your money where your mouth is.

Why doesn't the PC(USA) simply decide to set up a program so that the good people of the PC(USA) can ensure a basic level of access to all the people of the USA?

It's what Jesus would want done, isn't it? I wonder how many Presbyterians own big screen TV or how many families have more than one car.

Jesus' mandate, if I understand it correctly, was for His followers to love others -- and not to love big screen TV's, fancy homes, and automobiles.

Where is the challenge from the pulpits of the PC(USA) to the Presbyterian people to demonstrate their love by funding -- within the PC(USA) -- a program to ensure a basic level of access to health care?

The PC(USA) clearly has one such system -- it is the system you yourself mention -- the system that YOU belong to, Pastor.

If, indeed, there is a moral imperative -- a basic human right -- to a basic level of access to health care, then shouldn't the people of God do all THEY can to make sure that it is provided?

I'm quite sure the 2.5 million or so Presbyterians would, if given the opportunity, gladly follow Jesus' instructions to the Rich Young Ruler -- you know, the part about giving up all that they have and following Jesus -- if they knew that they could ensure a basic human right. Wouldn't they?

Or would they simply say, "Hey, Not MY Job. That's for other people to do -- that's for the Government to take care of."

I bet that if the Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopaleans, and Methodists were to join together to ensure this basic human right, they could do it -- all by themselves.

It would, I'm sure, involve substantial sacrifice on the part of everyone, but I'm sure the people of God in those denominations would gladly make the sacrifices necessary to do what Jesus wants them to do, instead of insisting on some governmental plan for health care.


cledster said...

CW -- I commend to your reading, if you haven't already seen it, this entry from Roger Ebert's journal: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/08/im_safe_on_board_you_can_pull.html

Anonymous said...

I thought that, in a democracy, we (the people) are the government, in which case if I want the government to provide access to health care, I'm not shifting the burden off myself and onto others. I'm simply recognizing the we as a society have the responsibility to protect the rights of all members of our society, and that includes a right to some basic level of access to health care.

And since when do we depend upon private entities to promote and protect our fundamental human rights? Why rely on nongovernmental entities such as the PC(USA) and other churches to ensure that this particular right is preserved? Would we shift the burden of protecting our other rights to groups within our society, rather than taking that on as a society?

Incidentally, I own a 19-inch TV that was a hand-me-down from my wife's late grandmother (with no cable or sattelite--egad!), my family has one car, and we have quite a modest 1290-sq-ft home. :)