It's a question I have been thinking about for weeks, and one I would like to pose to other people of the Christian faith. What do you think Jesus would do about healthcare reform? I am not trying to start an argument, although based on how heated the recent debates over this subject have become, I will probably offend someone. But, that really isn't my intention. What I'm hoping for is some serious thought about the question. I don't quite understand the anger and fierce resistance to the idea of making sure every citizen of our country had access to healthcare, particularly from those who are followers of Jesus. Along with feeding the hungry, and caring for the poor, I am pretty sure we are supposed to be taking care of the sick too. Is leaving it to private companies who are clear about their primary mission being monetary gain and who regularly cancel or refuse coverage to the sick the right way to show we actually care for each other? While there are arguments about the exact number, by all accounts there are tens of millions of Americans who have no health insurance. So tens of millions of people in one of the richest countries in the world can't necessarily get the treatment they need if they are sick or injured, or to keep well for that matter. The reason most people I know don't have insurance is cost- unless you have an employer who pays a portion, it is just too expensive. There is a huge gap of people who are not poor enough for Medi-Cal, but don't make enough to pay insurance premiums, especially if they are unlucky enough to have a pre-existing condition. The private companies don't seem to have a big interest in making it affordable, so that leaves many of us with nothing.
In the same newsletter in which Congressman Wally Herger shoots down the idea healthcare reform that includes any public option because it would cost taxpayer money, he touts the reasons we should use our taxpayers money to build a fence along the Mexican border. My Representative's attitude does not represent me in the case, nor my family, and certainly not the Christian faith in my opinion. My primary concerns in life are not illegal immigration or homeland security. Sure, they are problems too, but the possibility of losing everything if one of our family members was to have a serious illness is much more of a concern for me. I think the lack of access to healthcare is something that actually does affect many more American's on a daily basis than those other priorities. How can a country with the wealth and resources we have not consider the health of it's people as a priority?
The fear of a public healthcare option is something else I am not understanding, particularly from people who have no issue whatsoever sending their children off on a daily basis to be educated in a publicly funded school. The government has access to most of our children's minds every day, but people are terrified at the thought of government involvement in healthcare. Most people drive every day on public roads and I don't hear anyone yelling about the evils of socialist highways either. I think the key word is option, we want an option for people who have none. Will lots of people take the government up on the option? Probably so if they like it better than what they have now. But if what they have now was so great, why would they switch? Many people still choose private schools, charter schools or homeschooling for their children, but every child has access to education because we have publicly funded schools. I privately homeschool my children, but I definitely want the best possible public programs out there for the millions of kids who use that option.
Back to my original question; What would Jesus do about healthcare reform? While I am far from a Biblical scholar, I do know that he unequivocally told us to love one another- in fact to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I don't think he would spend his resources building a fence to lock out the poor rather than using that money to make sure the sick were taken care of and trying to keep people healthy. I think he would support working together for change (even with your enemies, which some people seem to consider anyone they did not vote for) I think he would want us to find ways to show we care about each other, not just ourselves. I think he might just be sick over the hostility and anger as well. While I firmly do believe in the separation of church and state, if a person is of faith, then they should be considering that in their choices, their words and their actions. Sometimes the loudest voices representing Christians don't seem to follow in his footsteps. I hope I am not completely off base with this long winded rant, but as I said, it's been on my mind for a while now. I am just really hoping that people who believe will prayerfully consider the path that Jesus would take here. I hope that soon we can figure out a way to stop yelling, and start figuring out ways to make things better.