Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Bishop on Health Care

My Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, writes "Where are Christians in the Health Care Debate?"

It's really well written, and I wanted to pull out a few moments (and, in reality, almost entirely reprint the whole statement here on my site):

Now that we are finally having the health care debate, you never seem to hear from (or about) those 50 million uninsured people – women and men who span all age groups about equally. Nor do we hear from the voiceless 10 million children in similar straits.

Listening to the angry public hearings being held by Congressional members, one wonders how many of those objecting to health care reform are among those without insurance or care. Rather, we are hearing from those who already have insurance, don’t want it to change, and don’t want it to cost them anything to insure all those without. Has there been a single person at one of these hearings that has said, “I lost my insurance a year ago when I lost my job, but I don’t think we should change the system we have”? According to both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, God judges us by how we care for the most vulnerable among us. Where are the Christian voices calling for care for all of us?

Bishop Robinson weighs in on the quality of our current health care in the United States with an eye-opening clarity:

There is much talk insisting that we in America have the best medical care on earth. Actually, that’s not true. What IS true is that a FEW of us have the best medical care on earth, while the rest have some portion of that care, and some only at the hands of charity work by hospitals and caregivers. In truth, our “best medical care on earth” gets us a ranking of 23rd in infant mortality, 20th in life expectancy, and 67th in immunizations (just behind Botswana). To our shame, race and income prove to be the most trustworthy indicators of how bad one’s health care will be.

Tough words indeed. Bishop Robinson, like myself, is not professing to have all of the answers or is using his position to advocate a particular plan over another:

There are many strategies and issues to be debated. Honest disagreement is entirely appropriate. And I am not arguing for one plan or another. But, what is not acceptable, from a Christian standpoint, is “I’ve got mine. To hell with you!”

The solution, however, clearly involves a change in tone as well as a willingness to compromise for the sake of all.

As Christians, we are called to be in constant conversation with the world. It’s time we weighed in as Christian voices to demand progress on this vital issue which threatens the lives of so many vulnerable people – many of them sitting beside us in the pews, just one illness or operation away from bankruptcy, disgrace and tragedy. And as Christians and citizens, we must decry the hostile tone of this debate, and call for a return to the goal of the common good. Members of the early Church gave up ALL their goods to the community, and then those resources were re-distributed “as each had need.” Surely, we can sacrifice a little for the good of all. Can’t we?

1 comment:

Fred said...

Bishop Robinson's message hits the mark. The current debate has revealed very ugly traits in some Americans, fear and self-centeredness. Such thinking never promotes the common good.

The basic issue here is one of social justice, a key element of Jesus' ministry. Our health care system is broken, and people are suffering. Being faithful to the Gospel demands that we speak boldly and act decisively to relieve this injustice.