What would John Wesley say about our present debate about health care (WWJWS)? Our own, Steve Manskar, reminds us on his Facebook page what John Wesley said and did about health care in his own time. If you're on Facebook, you can find his quotes from "A Plain Account of the People Called Methodists" on this subject matter at http://www.facebook.com/n/?note.php¬e_id=115822479323&mid=ee6c1bG1ee3e4a1G28f49fcGa.
Suffice it to say, John Wesley spent a good share of his time, personal finances, and Christian commitment in providing health care for the poor in England.
I've heard economists and those knowledgeable about health care remark that there hasn't been enough dialogue about what the changes should be made in health care. The Mayo and Cleveland Clinics have been raised as exemplary places to provide a more wholistic approach to health care; less individual providers with less than 20 minutes to work in their silo of medicine on our complicated and interconnected bodies. Could health care be more wholistic for all of us?
The town hall meetings that we are hearing about in the news with legislators and the President of the United States going out into the country don't exactly sound like a dialogue to me. Why the anger? What are we afraid of?
Why the misinformation? My own mother admits to getting many emails a day (her harddrive crashed so not so many right now!) about "pulling the plug on grandma," etc. Whose fueling that? Could it be the health insurance companies themselves? Could it be those who stand to make a lot of money off of us if we don't make changes?
How's your health insurance working for you now? Even those on Medicare (a government-run health provider). I'm sure it's not perfect, but something must be done in order to reduce costs but also to provide better care.
Do we have to link employment with health insurance? The history of that is that benefits were given instead of salary increases. That appears to be the case again today, at least for clergy! And of course the disaster is that when one is no longer employed, one is also off health insurance. Several members of my own family don't have health insurance right now because they don't have jobs. This isn't about someone else. This is about us and if it's not affecting us directly now, it affects us indirectly. Presently it's causing some local churches to really struggle in providing benefits for clergy. The issue isn't that clergy shouldn't have benefits, but that benefits shouldn't be so exorbitant.
Now you probably think that I'm "playing politics," but let me direct you to the Social Principles in our Book of Discipline which state in part: "Providing the care needed to maintain health, prevent disease, and restore health after injury or illness is a responsibility each person owes others and government owes all, a responsibility government ignores at its peril..health care is best funded through the government's ability to tax each person equitably and directly fund the provider entities...We believe it is a governmental responsiblity to provide all citizens with health care." (Par. 162.V, 2008 Book of Discipline).
So why aren't we more adamant about health care for all as United Methodists? What can we do? WWJWS?
Please feel free to express your opinions but I expect that you will respond differently from "the world," and I hope we can have a conversation based on our faith and not just our politics!