Health Care Reform, the Court, and Jesus!
Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that the Health Care Reform law enacted by Congress in 2009 is Constitutional under it's ability to issue taxes. In essence, with this 5-4 decision, the Court sent the issue back to the political arena. John Roberts, a rather conservative Justice, doesn't seem to have joined the majority because he liked the law, but because to reject it outright threw the court into the middle of a political storm, and this time he didn't want to do this. So, now the Congress and the current or next President will have to deal with the consequences -- for good or ill!
As for me and my house, we welcome the decision. The Affordable Care Act is far from a perfect law, but it is probably the best we can do at this moment to provide health care for as many Americans as possible. The United States has a great health care system if you have the money or good insurance, but for the most part its a system designed to react to health problems not prevent them. It's a system that is profitable for specialists, but doesn't necessarily provide good care for a majority of people.
One of the rallying cries of opponents to this law is that it is an unreasonable extension of federal control over the American people. Leave it to the states, we're told. But in our increasingly mobile society is this state-centered reality realistic? It seems to me that we would be well served if our choices were less determined by state or region, and medical care would seem to be an area where a more federalized system would be beneficial.
But, while there are economic and social benefits to accrue from the law (as I see it), there is another vantage point -- and that's from a faith perspective. What do we owe our neighbor? As I read the Scriptures, I hear the call to love my neighbor, to be hospitable, and compassionate. I don't think that God cares whether it's a NGO, a church, or a government providing services. The point is -- compassion should lead us to making provision for our neighbors welfare. The needs of the nation are too great to be relieved by religious organizations alone. We can assist, but we can't do everything. So, some of us feel it appropriate to advocate for government assistance and care for our neighbors.
My perspective is reflected in the words of the General Minister of my denomination -- The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, who issued this response to yesterday's ruling:
"As a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world, Disciples of Christ pray for and work for the health and well-being of all God's children. Jesus’ witness was that abundant life includes physical, mental and spiritual wellness. I welcome decisions that help all of us make progress in this direction, including today's Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
“Jesus’ ministry was one of healing, bringing life to the dying, sight to the blind, wellness to the sick, and peace to the troubled. The call upon us is to make this vision a reality for all."
It's important, in my mind, that we commit ourselves, if we're followers of Jesus, to the ministry of healing, which is a ministry that emerges from love of our neighbor, which is the 2nd Great Commandment! Not everyone will agree on how to do this, but for me, this Law is a good starting point.