Thursday, August 20, 2009

Packing Heat for Health Care Reform

Rose Berger, who works at Sojourners, attended a Capitol Hill health care reform rally today "packing" a water pistol, to rather hilarious results. Read about it here. What a great way to cool off the hot heads who are getting a bit carried away with the debate these days. Way to go, Rose!

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.