Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

A Matter of Social Conscience: The Goal Is Health Security for All

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

A Matter of Social Conscience: The Goal Is Health Security for All

Article excerpt

IT IS HARD to hear through all the noise on health-care reform. Average Americans are struggling to understand the details as well as the big picture.

This is not easy in a media environment that highlights and thrives on the most contentious of issues, and not always in the most helpful way. Add in the blogosphere, and you have a mix of messages that is far more confusing than it is clarifying.

At the Catholic Health Association, our message has always been clear: Health care must respect and protect human dignity from conception to natural death. In that spirit, coverage for everyone is a moral imperative and a matter of social justice.

Nearly two years before the national reform conversation began, CHA put forward a set of principles to guide the effort. The "Our Vision for U.S. Health Care" document, developed collaboratively with members of the Catholic health ministry, begins with values from Catholic social teaching, including human dignity, justice, and the common good.

The Vision then outlines elements of a strong, equitable health-care system starting with access for all. We have used this document to present our case for reform, and now to evaluate the legislation moving through Congress.

CHA has not endorsed any of the bills under consideration. We support health reform that is consistent with our values, matches our Vision, and expands care to the greatest possible number of people. The process is still unfolding, and the details big and small are still subject to major change. Unfortunately, as lawmakers work to reach consensus on important and controversial matters, the tone of the national conversation has reached a sometimes poisonous pitch.

Much of the press coverage and townhall shouting is focused on false and often frightening claims devoted to bringing down reform. Even when correcting the misinformation, the media still spends a lot of time repeating the falsehoods, which only keeps them in the headlines and brings more people to believe they are some version of the truth.

Here is our truth: A nation as wealthy and smart as this one can create an equitable and sustainable health-care system. Reforming the system means legislation consistent with protecting life--on behalf of the unborn, the cancer patient, the addicted, the dying, the frail elderly. It also means reform that comes as close as possible to meeting our other principles relative to quality, cost, and access. …

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