Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Unhealthy Health Care

Health care in America is sick. Costs for insurance premiums just keep going up and up and there are, each year, an increasing number of Americans who drop off the health insurance rolls because they simply cannot afford coverage any longer. Emergency rooms are backed up with people who have nowhere else to go and "the rest of us" ultimately have to pay for it.

Health care needs to be fixed, no question about it.

Today, I want to blog about the current legislation before the House of Representatives which is offered as the solution to our nation's health care woes. I suppose there will be those who say that a pastor has no business commenting on something this political in nature. It might even be argued that I should keep my comments and opinions inside the walls of my church and to things that I know something about. My response is thus: on the issue of health care, I am compelled because
I am a pastor
to comment. I am the shepherd of a flock of wonderful people. When I see something, anything, that threatens the flock, I am compelled to speak.

The 1000+ page behemoth bill before the House crosses political lines and enters into the arena of morality. Issues of morality are well within my purview and mandate as a pastor to comment on.

This is a bad bill. And it's not just me that thinks so. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal editorial is quoted as saying, "The more we inspect the House (health care) bill, the more it looks to be one of the worst pieces of legislation ever introduced in Congress."

The political reality is that the lines for this bill are firmly drawn between the two parties in our country. The Republicans are going to oppose this bill and the Democrats are going to support it. Since we have a Democrat president pushing for this reform on a very tight schedule (which I still don't understand why the rush) and since the legislative branch is controlled by the Democrat party, the only hope of killing this bad bill is to influence our Democrat representatives and senators to do what is best for the people and to break from the party line.

Arkansas House Representative Mike Ross is a Democrat who appears to be breaking ranks. He leads a coalition within the Democrat party called the Blue Dog Democrats, a group of fiscally conservative Democratic House members that advocates the principles of fiscal responsibility and government accountability. The Blue Dogs have raised serious questions about the fiscal viability of the House bill to nationalize our health care system. Mike is a great guy. A few years ago when I took my family to visit Washington DC, we went to the Rayburn Building (which houses many congressmen) across the street from the Capital to look for any representative from Arkansas. We happened to stumble into Congressman Ross's office. His staff bent over backwards to take care of us. They offered to keep our bags and lunches for us while we toured the Capital and they even hooked us up with Chamber tickets for a session of the House. I'm a fan of Mike Ross.

But our State's two senators need to get with the program and do what's right for Arkansas and the nation.

The following is the text of an email I sent to Arkansas Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor:

I pastor the Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith - a congregation of over 2300 members. Many of my members have expressed deep concern over the government health care legislation before the House at this time. EVERYTHING I have read about this legislation deeply concerns me personally as well. According to the CBO it will NOT reduce health care costs as was PROMISED by President Obama. It WILL eliminate private insurance (RE: page 16). A large number of my congregation are senior citizens who actively use the current health care system and are very happy with the quality of care. I am also DEEPLY concerned that this legislation is being pushed through on a "schedule" without the chance for it to be thoroughly read and evaluated.

Further, the whole concept of nationalized health care (run by the government which has never successfully run anything) crosses into the realm of, what I consider to be morally wrong. It is morally wrong, in a free country, to eliminate the ability of people to choose their own health care option. It is morally wrong for the government to compete in such a way as to cause the downfall of the private health insurance industry (which nationalized health care WILL do). It is morally wrong to force people who may not want health care coverage to take it. It is morally wrong to pass legislation with no ability to pay for it as a country. It is morally wrong to bankrupt future generations with this financial burden. It is morally wrong to force Americans to enroll in a government health plan that provides abortion services as a benefit.

Nationalized health care has NEVER worked in any country in which it has been tried. It is morally wrong to willingly lead the American people into a system that is guaranteed to fail.

I encourage you to WORK WITH other senators in a bi-partisan fashion to address the nation's need for health care reform BUT nationalized health care is NOT the solution - it is morally wrong.

To date, you seem to be silent on government health care?? Will you fall in lock and step with senate democrats and vote for this destructive piece of legislation OR will you do what is best for Arkansans who voted you to represent OUR best interests.

To date I have received no reply from Senator Lincoln. Just yesterday I received a form email response from Senator Pryor's office which bragged about all he was doing for health care to help Arkansans but mentioned nothing about his stance on the issue of nationalized health care. I have made numerous attempts to secure meetings with both Senators Pryor and Lincoln the last 6 months. I have even offered to drive to Little Rock and meet them on their schedule when they are in State. Senator Lincoln's office has been courteous enough to have a staff member respond and express a desire to "possibly" work something out if the Senator can find the time. To date that has not happened. Senator Pryor's office won't even call me back.

As I stated in my email to the Senators, the current health care bill, as I read and understand the portions of it (it takes a while to go through 1000+ pages) is morally wrong. And I didn't even touch on the aspects of the bill that will most certainly lead to health care rationing. Something that will impact the many, many senior adults in my church. It will be a moral tragedy should the day arrive that a senior adult in my church, or my mother or father, or YOUR mother or father be told that they cannot have that MRI or CAT Scan or by-pass because the "national health care review board" has determined that based on their age, and based on the limited resources of our national health care system, that these resources can better be spent on someone younger who hasn't already lived a full and fruitful life. If you think this would never happen, think again.... A nation that does not value life on the front end is only a small step away from not valuing it on the back end.

This is bad stuff for Christian and non-Christian alike.

And it is morally wrong.

Do we need health care reform in this country? Yes.

But we can do better. We must do better.



Marsha said...

Right on, Jeff. I couldn't agree more.

Andrew said...

Pastor Jeff,
I am not an advocate for Nationalized Health Care. Quite the opposite. I do however believe that given the poor decisions that have been made in the past America's leadership is left little alternative but to try something. Americans have aborted millions of babies since 1973. Were all of those children born, and given birth to their own off spring, we would not be having this so called Health Care crisis.

While I applaud your efforts to gain an Audience with Senators Lincoln and Pryor, I am not certain they are willing to listen to the voices of their constituents on this issue and are swayed by the political winds. I base this upon what they have already said on the issue and believe they are following the "party line."

This is not to say that this isn't happening but I am firmly convinced that if we agree to go to our Supreme leader, He will make a difference, because of what He says.

If MY people will humble themselves and pray, seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and heal their land.

With enduring love in Christ

P.S. : Ever notice those in favor of abortion have already been born?