Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Moral Dissent on the Senate Republican Healthcare Legislation

The current republican healthcare insurance legislation on the floor of the senate inflicts political violence upon Americans as according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) it will take away insurance from 22 million people over the next ten years, cut Medicaid by $772 billion while giving the 400 richest families a tax cut worth on average $7 million each, and according to the Annuals of Internal Medicine be the cause of early death of over 28,000 people per year. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a statement on the floor of the Senate called the legislation “barbaric and immoral.” The elderly would also have to pay five times more than young people, this according to the Guardian.  Further, according to a 2013 study done by Nerdwallet study which employed a 2009 Harvard study there were 643,000 medical bankruptcies per year (http://www.snopes.com/643000-bankruptcies-in-the-u-s-every-year-due-to-medical-bills). The elderly will have to pay five times more than young people for their healthcare insurance, see the Guardian at www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/15/elderly-americans-healthcare-new-bill-republicans . While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare sought to alleviate this burden the Republican healthcare insurance legislation on the floor of the senate will exacerbate that burden necessarily increasing the number of Americans living in poverty. 

According to a New York Times article of June 23rd entitled “The Health Debate Shows What Both Parties Care About Most” states that Republicans are focused on trying to minimize taxes, especially on investment income, and keeping federal subsidies for health care to a minimum. They are willing to accept the wrenching consequences that attaining those goals might have for Americans’ insurance coverage, betting that lower taxes and smaller government will fuel a more vibrant economy.” They believe that their ideas of free market solutions are worth putting the healthcare of the American people at risk. In contrast, the Democrats are focused on trying to maximize the number of people who have decent health insurance, and are willing to accept whatever tax increases and arrangements with health insurers and other private interests are needed to make that happen. They seek the broadest possible availability of health care, whatever the cost and political trade-offs it takes to achieve it. See (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/upshot/the-health-debate-shows-what-both-parties-care-about-most.html. I believe the Republican legislation misses the point.  It’s not about the money exclusively, more so, it is about life, death, family and those relationships that make life worth living.  Healthcare must be considered a common good.

As a veteran and recipient of single payer, and a pastor in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and transgender, with people in my congregation who live with disabilities, the infirmed, the elderly, homeless and those with mental health challenges, I find very little, if any, compassion, hope or justice in this legislation. It reveals a peculiar deficit in morality and good judgement. Believe it or not, the Republicans on Capitol Hill, as much as they accused the Democrats of setting up death panels, have themselves become a type of death panel consigning to death thousands of people per year while lining the pockets of 400 hundred wealthy families according to the Huffington Post. It does not reflect the reality that healthcare and healthcare insurance is a common good, that beyond political, economic, and religious persuasion, all people have a right to healthcare and healthcare insurance.  As a person of faith, I look to the example of Jesus Christ as he gave free healthcare to all and did not charge any premiums.  His example reminds us that the God that many Republicans use as a talking point to support policies detrimental to poor and working families envisions healthcare and healthcare insurance as a divine and sacred right not to be hindered by those who see healthcare to make profits for shareholders.

Isaiah 10:1-4 says Ah you who make iniquitous decrees who write oppressive statutes to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans prey! What will you do on the day of punishment in the ruin that will come from afar. To who will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For this anger has not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.

I suggest here that in the final analysis those who use sacred scripture, the word of God, to further the oppression the American people for the benefit of profit shall reap the wrath of God. There is a price to pay for a legislation unjust.

While I look to scripture to inform my political persuasion I am also mindful that the need to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare is a promise made during the campaign, to tear down as much as possible the political legacy of President Barack Obama. I would be remiss if I did not consider this unfortunate and sad reality, that 22 million people are put at risk because of the incessant need to tear down President Barack Obama's legacy.  I remember looking at a piece on VOX media where a woman living in Kentucky, a Trump supporter said that the “Affordable Care Act saved her life but when told that her healthcare insurance was subsidized by the government she immediately said she detested Obamacare.” To be clear, it’s not just the Republicans on Capitol Hill but many of their constituents who hate President Barack Obama.

And because of a need to tear down  President Barack Obama's legacy healthcare for 22 million Americans, the consigning to early death of over 28,000 Americans, 643,000 medical bankruptcies and a multitude of implications to increase in poverty is made possible. Sadly, I believe hatred and racism are the underlying unspoken reasons for this profound injustice. I am obligated because of my faith, because of my love for justice and the common good for all people to a moral dissent regarding this piece of abhorrent legislation and pray that the hearts of those in favor of such legislation would be made new regarding this important and critical matter of healthcare for all.