Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Three Moral Issues of Health Care

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Three Moral Issues of Health Care

Article excerpt

ON A PERSONAL, national, and global level, the physical well-being of all God's children is close to God's heart and should be close to ours as well. Scripture says that death, disease, and pain did not exist in the Garden of Eden, and Revelation tells of a "new heaven and new earth," where once again they will not exist. Perfect health will never be achieved and physical death on this earth will never be overcome, but the scriptures paint a clear picture that health and wholeness were God's intent from the beginning and will be again in the end.

But we live in a fallen world where injury and sickness are a fact of life. Every year in our country there are about 119 million emergency room visits, 902 million visits to doctors, and about 3.5 billion prescriptions filled.

There is not a religiously mandated or God-ordained system of health care or insurance. Luke might have been a physician, but he never commented on whether computerizing medical records should be a national priority. You won't find in the Bible policy conclusions about health-care savings accounts, personal versus employer-provided insurance, single payer public systems, or private insurance plans.

But these policy questions are of vital importance and will be debated and discussed at the White House, in Congress, in the media, and, I hope, in our churches. With an issue like health, deeply personal but of great public concern, the faith community has a unique and important role to play--to define and raise the moral issues beneath the policy debate. There will be a lot of heat--maybe even a few fires--in the weeds of the policy, and the faith community has the opportunity to remind our political leaders about why these issues speak to our values.

We should focus on three fundamental moral issues:

THE TRUTH. For decades, the physical health and well-being of our country has been a proxy battle for partisan politics. When President Truman tried to pass a national health insurance plan, the American Medical Association spent $200 million (in today's dollars) to oppose the legislation and was accused of violating ethics rules by having doctors lobby their patients. In the 1970s, when President Nixon tried to pass a plan strikingly similar to what many Democrats are proposing today, it was defeated by liberal Democrats and unions who thought they would be able to pass something themselves after the midterm elections and claim the political credit. In the 1990s, the "Harry and Louise" ads misrepresented President Clinton's plan, but were successful enough to shut down that movement for reform. …

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