When Health Care Reform has a Face and a Name

Isaiah the prophet sees God’s ultimate dream for health care when the new creation is completed: “No more shall there be…an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime (Isaiah 65:20).”  Over the past year, our nation has been polarized over the issue of health care reform.  One side believes that every American deserves to have health coverage while the other side believes that such is a privilege.  It’s true that I may be over-simplifying, but that seems to be the broad spectrum.  Now, I would be lying if I thought that the new health care plan that is to be implemented over the next several years is immaculate (as it will be in God’s renewed world); but when you put a name and a face to reform, suddenly political practice becomes rooted in relationships rather than theory.

Over the past few weeks a very close friend has been suffering with several ailments, of which gallbladder stones are the primary.  She has two part-time jobs and therefore does not have insurance.  She went to the ER initially for the pain she was having but was told by doctors that she would have to wait for more evidence of infection before they could legally operate on her without health coverage.  So, she was told to wait until clear signs of infection kicked in (yellowing of the eyes and skin, high fever, etc.), which was quite risky for her, but was the only way that an operation would even be possible.

Finally, she did go to the ER with pain and some symptoms of infection, but ultimately it was the way her gallbladder problems were affecting her liver-count that led the hospital to believe that she was close enough to the ‘life threatening’ stage to be mandated by law to operate.  A week later, because they did not give her preventative care, a stone had lodged itself into her pancreas causing pancreatitis!  In total, she was in the hospital 9 out of 12 days.  In my opinion, in a society that has more than enough money to give health care to every American (and many oversees for that matter), this was a personal example of our unjust health ‘care’ system.  My friend has a face and a name, and will now be in debt for the next several years of her adult life.  Luckily, the neglect of the system did not lead to worse consequences.

As a child I grew up in American poverty.[1] We were on Welfare, lived in Section 8 housing, bought groceries with food stamps, and were covered by Medi-Cal.  My mom made some bad choices over the years, but now is trying to improve her life.  Over the past few years she has been held back by several health problems, the worst of which is a back that is in dire need of surgical correction.  Unfortunately, she lacked medical insurance because she was living below the poverty line.

Many opponents of health care reform would probably point out that my Mom’s bad choices are the cause of this predicament, which may in fact be true.  However, is there no redemption for those who want to make a better life for themselves?  How is she supposed to ‘pick herself up by the bootstraps’ if the very thing that is preventing her from doing so is a broken health care system?  Sure, the private sector or the church could pay for her medical bills in an ideal world, but are you willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars out of your hard-earned money for everyone in my Mother’s plight?  I say this not as an insult, but rather to illustrate the reality of things on the impoverished ground.  You see, the system has the power to hold people in bondage to poverty, which is why I am passionate about the coming changes to  medical coverage.  Health care reform, when it has a face and a name, is no longer about political theory, but about real people that deserve real justice.[2]

So, does health care reform have a face and a name for you?  Do you see this as an issue that needs to be addressed?  In my own life, I can say that my Mom and my friend are both reasons convincing enough that humanizing our conversations about reform is the first step to a helpful dialogue and a hopeful future.  Health care has a face and a name; in fact, health care reform has 45.7 million faces and names that must not be forgotten.

[1] American poverty is a luxury compared to many throughout the world, so I want to be fair and make this distinction.  This doesn’t however justify it as ‘not that bad.’

[2] I want to say that my Mom had a recent miracle that came through the state Welfare system.  My 20 year old brother moved home this year, and she has Medi-Cal for the next few months leading up to his 21st birthday.  She is now in the early stages of recovery from the initial back surgery, however, when her coverage is up; she may not have the post-operative attention that she needs to fully recover.  This part of the story is too long to put in the article itself, but I wanted to make sure that you knew the full story.


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  • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

    I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again… I’m all for making sure that the underprivileged and poor in our society are cared for. I believe that the gospel is about both personal life transformation and about living out that life transformation in righteous living in the world around us. What I am NOT for is making it the responsibility of the secular institutions of today, namely the government, to do this duty. The secular institutions should be called to not treat others unjustly and to allow the freedom for those of us called to justice-based living to be able to do so, but when we make the secular institutions do our job, it is basically telling the unbelieving population “Why do you need God? The government will take care of you.”

    I’m all for health-care reform so stupid stuff like what happened to your Mom will not happen again. I am against, though, the infiltration of the bureaucracy of government into these decision making processes…If you think about it, Medi-Cal was a government program so it was a government program that brought about this state of affairs in the first place.

    It is the responsibility of the Kingdom of God to care for the poor, the sick, the prisoner, the under-valued, the under-privileged, the marginalized and the sick. The US Government The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God > The US Government. If we believe these two statements, then our primary focus should be to move the Kingdom forward in our lives and communities and, if government doesn’t want to come along, well, then it’s their loss.

    • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

      I should not that my early statement did not translate well into HTML… should read “The US Government is not equal to The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is Greater than the US Government”. Sorry, ’bout that.

    • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

      Robert… I have a couple of brief thoughts.

      You say:

      “What I am NOT for is making it the responsibility of the secular institutions of today, namely the government, to do this duty. The secular institutions should be called to not treat others unjustly and to allow the freedom for those of us called to justice-based living to be able to do so, but when we make the secular institutions do our job, it is basically telling the unbelieving population “Why do you need God? The government will take care of you.””

      I understand your reasoning here to a point. However, I think you may be asking the wrong questions. My foundational question is: “What will alleviate the most suffering?” I think this is at the bottom of the empire subversion that we see in the New Testament. Now, it is true that government action can indeed cause suffering, so the role of the church as an external community is to call them out when they do. For instance, the government action that allows abortion to take place in this country is something that we could agree is an ‘action’ that the state has taken that causes suffering. Another obvious example is the wars that we keep fighting. Our systemic fighting is causing deeper suffering.

      Now, on the other side of this question is when the government’s ‘lack of action’ also causes suffering. When a nation has the power to provide justice, and chooses not to, this is something that the church is called to stand prophetically against. We see this is the prophets very clearly. “You who oppress the poor” language is used of both Israel and foreign nations who all had governments. The systems of the day, with a lack of action, were causing suffering.

      Follow this logic (which I know you will have a rebuttal as your mind is pretty made up [as is mine, admittedly :-) ]). Our lack of providing a public option for Health Care is clearly causing suffering, which is the direct result of our government allowing corporations to charge whatever they would like to for health care. This is more than clear in both my friend’s and Mom’s case. Our call, as the church, is to first provide for those who are in need; second, to call the governments of this world to account, just as the prophets and Romans 13 remind us. God gives government authority to do justice in both ways I mentioned. What will alleviate the most suffering for health care at this time? A public option that is affordable for all!

      Second, does your church have a hospital with up to date technology for the poor and marginalized to have the kind of care mentioned in this article? Could your church have provided a surgery in both cases? I doubt it… Mine sure couldn’t. Why? Because the bureaucracy of the current system has made medical care unreasonable for the 45 million people in this nation who lack coverage. And like my Mom, they are held in their bondage to sickness, because the system of inaction holds them there. But lets just grant your idealist premise that the church should take care of all of it (which I do not fully disagree with, but see your logic as presenting a false dichotomy). Would not the church become a bureaucratic system with the same kind of potential to become a “fallen power?” Anytime any system is created that involves money at a ‘meta’ scale, the possibility of corruption is present; even within the church as has been demonstrated throughout history. Good-hearted individuals eventually will have to come up with a system… which to me is the circular logic in the libertarian view.

      Finally I ask a fair question that is usually avoided by my conservative/libertarian friends (and yes, I consider you a friend from a distance!). What do we do with the suffering people in the mean time? Who is going to front the millions of dollars needed to pay for surgeries etc for those who have no coverage? What is the realistic path?

      Blessings friend! Its incredible how two like-minded theological minds can disagree so much with application but still be brothers in the same movement.

      • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

        Kurt, you are correct, I’m not sure we can fully come to agreement on this. But let me rebutt a few points here:

        1) I agree that a lack of government action is also a source of suffering. However, what is the proper government action? Is it to have more government involvement, applying more external law to a situation, and providing even more bureaucracy and space for corruption to occur? Or is it to fix the current system, closing the loop-holes that need closed, and enforcing the regulations that are already in place so that the doctors, when presented with the situation they had with your mother would, instead of feeling the pressure NOT to act, feel the freedom TO act in good conscience. The problem your doctors faced was that government regulations could not allow them to act because it was too expensive if her life was not threatened. I think that is an injustice. Instead of preventing good deeds, the government should allow good deeds. A public option, I believe, will not add to the freedom but, because of the same root cause (financial feasibility), will add to more restriction and prevention of action.

        2) No, my church does not have a hospital… but it has doctors. And it has nurses. And it has people of means who, when someone presents with a need for financial help for medical costs (and it has happened MANY times in just the past year in my small 100 member congregation), step up and pay the bills where insurance and government programs fall down. Now, if you look at the church as an institution and organization, then yes, I can see your argument that it would add more bureaucracy. But to me, the church transcends institution into something that is indwelling within the people, in the hearts and minds of the believers. THAT church is where the action happens. No program or outreach system or institutional policy will do ANY good if people don’t have the Kingdom in their hearts…and if the Kingdom is there, even the institution of the church becomes superfluous.

        3) #2 above answers your final question. The realistic path is not necessarily to try and swallow the 45 million who are uninsured in one gulp, but, through relationships and community outreach, hospitality, and love, reach out to those who need it, when they need it, as they need it. Not all 45 million uninsured necessarily NEED insurance right now. We can, though, if we live in relationship with those around us, meet those who DO have a need, right here, right now. That’s both idealistic AND realistic. It happens every day… and it’s not known that it happens because it’s not an institution that’s doing it, but people loving people.

        • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

          Just want to add something. It is not ‘illegal’ for the doctors etc to treat someone without insurance. It is simply that out of the kindness of their hearts, those who operate the hospitals will not treat someone without insurance because there is no guarantee of payment. The law is not preventing them from doing so… the rules of the hospitals are. What the law has built into it is a good thing… No refusing patients that are in serious danger or near death. That is a good law, but not enough for the system to be just.

          Also, I think your church is awesome! We too have a fund and generous people, but not enough to cover the losses by any stretch… and this is only one situation.

          • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

            Perhaps, again, the solution can present as not adding more government assistance, but a solution to actually reduce one of the sources of high-cost: malpractice insurance. One of the reason why doctors are actually leaving the state of Pennsylvania is that the overhead for running a practice in our state is just so high due, primarily, to malpractice insurance premiums. Comes down to basic economics at that point. Reducing prices to the consumers is best done by reducing cost to the producer. Even with a public option, I think the health reform law currently enacted is going to fall down rapidly so long as malpractice lawsuit abuses are left uncorrected.

            So, if we correct the cost, then we can look again at the body of Christ. With a reduced cost, perhaps the faith institutions and organic body of Christ can meet a much larger percentage (if not all) of the presenting needs. Maybe a public option would help in the short term in that case, but with no active work to reduce cost of procedures, I don’t think any sort of public option will help in any case.

          • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

            One thing about government insurance options. While it is not “illegal” for a doctor to treat someone without insurance, if the government agency determines that funds are not available or that the situation does not warrant that the funds should be spent that way, then, while it is not “illegal” to do so, the doctors can get in trouble for un-authorized treatment. It might as well be illegal in that sense.

            Now, that said, we Christians need to think a little bit about our own life choices. For example, from my own personal experience, three years ago, we were presented with a situation. Either have my mother go through surgery to correct a perforated intestine (complication of three months of illness due to severe acute pancreatitis caused by gall-stones lodged in the common duct) with a 50% chance of surviving the surgery and a 10% chance of living afterwards…or choose to let her life end gracefully and pain free. My mother chose the latter… the hardest decision she and my father had to make… and one we children fully supported. Three weeks later, she died…or, as I like to say it, Christ welcomed her home after a long journey… I think someone else in this same comment thread mentioned something about accepting the frailties of life as part of a more Christian awareness of health issues… Again, though, should that be forced from the outside, or should that be something that people have the freedom to choose on their own?

          • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

            Late to the party, guys (a move across the country will do that to a guy), but a couple responses to Robert:

            1) Your church may help a few people, but no churches anywhere are stepping up at the magnitude required to help 4.5 x 10^7 uninsured. The problem with the common “the church should handle it” argument is that the church ISN’T handling it. Christians don’t give enough to cover health care. The way to get the government out of health care is simple: create an alternative that through market forces renders the need for government assistance irrelevant. But until conservative Christians struggle to create health care ministries with the same zeal–and more money–as they do to fight abortion, the church isn’t pulling its weight sufficient to obviate the need for public health care.

            2) Malpractice is a straw man (although malpractice insurance premiums are not). While it is certainly a burden on the health care system, if you look at absolute dollars, the financial burden of administration, insurance companies, pharma, etc. is much greater. So is the insane amount we spend on buying one more day/week/month when we’re dying anyhow.

            3) You decry bureaucracy…tell me what part of the current multi-provider, multi-payor system is not bureaucracy, and IS efficient! Insurance companies that aren’t not-for-profit mutual aid societies (that is, most insurance companies) exist to maximize premium income and minimize patient payouts. That’s how they make the massive profits they collect. It’s all designed around denial and obstruction of care.

            But really, supply-and-demand. You want government out, create a demonstrably effective alternative!

  • http://www.equalitycentral.com/forum TL

    We send in our government to other nations to help their poor. Some say that’s not our job. We send in our government to do a lot of things to help and assist the people of other nations, none of which is ‘our job’ to do.

    What IS our job to do is make sure the people of our nation have access to medical care. The injustices being done every day to American citizens because of the high cost of medical care takes us back to the dark ages of the divisions between the wealthy ‘citizens’ and the peasants.

    • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

      Agreed, TL, but the solution, I believe, is to not institute a similar feudal system where the wealthy in power then give as they deem fit to the peasants but, instead, to be a more Kingdom based system where we are all brothers and sisters journeying together and, if a brother or sister is struggling, we help them… and that includes those neighbors who may not consider themselves brothers and sisters. Again, as I stated elsewhere, the difference is between a system imposed from the outside and a lifestyle born from transformed heart. I believe the gospel teaches more towards the latter than the former… and that by achieving more and more of the latter, the former becomes less and less necessary.

      • http://www.equalitycentral.com/forum TL

        “instead, to be a more Kingdom based system where we are all brothers and sisters journeying together and, if a brother or sister is struggling, we help them…”

        Doesn’t work. If we are left to the mercy of our brethren, whether Christian or not, they are slim pickings. Churches cannot afford to provide insurance of any sort for their members. There are plenty of such opportunities helping our struggling neighbors today and today we have the problems of people being sent home to die, of people given sub standard treatment or none at all.

        • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.com/ Robert Martin

          On that, TL, I’ll have to respectfully disagree, not out of anything esoteric or theoretical but because I have seen it, practiced it, and experienced it within my church community. Within my church community, no matter what the economic status of the individual, not whether or not they are even members of the church community, where relationships happen, people are cared for. That’s one church community. If all communities live that out, if everyone within the church communities actually live out what they preach, then government interaction, I believe, will be moot.

          My message I’m trying to give is that, rather than having Christians focus on getting the government more involved, I believe that the better solution would be getting Christians to focus on actually preaching, living, and acting out the gospel that we say we believe in.

          • http://www.equalitycentral.com/forum TL

            What that is called is a unique set of circumstances, something that generally does not and will not happen even if we think we can force it to happen. It is a blessing to see that you have achieved that. It is doubtful that our church could do the same. Our pastors all work part time, one full time. The people in the church can bareful afford their own health insurance let alone trying to become funded for everyone.

            Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great ideal and one I’d love to see happen. But I cannot in good conscience put people in a position where they must rely on something that most likely will not happen for them.

          • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.com/ Robert Martin

            And again, the point is not the institution of the church, nor even necessarily the local congregation, but the CHURCH. I don’t know your circumstances, TL, but I would find it hard to believe that your church is completely alone and that there are no other Christians of other denominations, congregations, etc around you… even, perhaps, ones that are not necessarily affiliated with a congregation but are definitely part of the CHURCH. So, while your local congregation cannot (and I know of one down the road from us who cannot), there are those who can help you, too (and our congregation takes care of our own.. AND that congregation down the road). The Kingdom of God knows no walls of church buildings or limitations of neighborhood.

            Yes, if we depend upon the formal institutions, as I said before, it will fail as miserably as a bureaucratic government program. But if the Body of Christ is involved as a unified body, then Kingdom WILL happen. “In Christ, all things are possible”

          • http://www.equalitycentral.com/forum TL

            What denominations do you think will work together with what other denominations to support not just the Christians in need in their church. What sort of regulations do you suppose they will institute to be sure that their members are not asking for unnecessary expenditures.

            I’ve been a Christian for 41 years. I’ve watched churches go from being generous with their members to setting up committees for “helping” people. The committees were hands down the most intrusive and prejudicial set ups for helping people I’ve ever come across.

            Our church has members who regularly help others with stuff they need help with, with their own time, tools and skills. We have done amazing things for people. But expecting people to pull more money out of diminishing income is too much. Are you aware that even wealthy people by most standards are having difficulty getting home loans or even home improvement loans.

            Your ideal is great. It’s just not realistic.

          • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.com/ Robert Martin

            TL, I am saddened that your experience is less than the ideal and that speaks to, not a failure of the church, but a failure of humans. Again, there is a difference, and I cannot stress it enough, between the “institution” and the “body”. Institutions are human affairs. The body is of Christ. In my area, we have Mennonites, Methodists, Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Assemblies of God, and others all working together to meet the needs in our community from food banks to helping families rebuild homes to financial support for the unemployed, etc. It can be done. It’s happening every day all over this country.

            Again, I’m grieved that you have been so badly hurt in the past by the institution and its failings. But I suggest that this is not a reason to abandon the church as the body as the means to bring about a just society.

          • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

            Robert… I agree with you on this angle. The church as you see it is indeed the church that I see! Lets do this in spite of different political ideals…

          • http://www.equalitycentral.com/forum TL

            I agree that In Christ all things are possible. And God will use different means to do something.

            It is impressive that the different denominations in your area have worked together so well. We’ve done some of that in helping the homeless needy, food programs and such. And it’s a great goal to work toward.

            “The Kingdom of God knows no walls of church buildings or limitations of neighborhood.”

            In some ways this is true. But in many ways it is not. Many denominations require that you believe their doctrines in full before they can accept you as “their own”. Just consider the fighting on the internet. :)

          • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

            One question: urban or rural community? How many neighbors does your church have, and how many know they could get this help? How many destitute in your own county who haven’t found your church?

            I’m guessing this would not translate to an urban setting…not enough Christians, and vastly fewer who give a rip…

          • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

            I’ve been involved in churches (small and large) for most of my life and have never known of any church to even attempt to provide health care – the cost is just too astronomical.

      • calleen

        I defintley agree with you and you have made excellent points. Thank youfor sharing your insight. Here are is my 2 cents…Nothing comes free especially from government. Government is a corporation like any other and corrupt at that. Unfortunatley people don’t realize that health care will not be “given”to every American. There will be a cost, not only financially but moraly. When a corporation private or government is overseeing a massive system such as health care, excesive corruption and control will always be buried in the numbers. It is inevitable!

        Sometimes I think it is difficult for some Christians that have magnificent hearts and beautiful intentions that want to alleviate the suffering of the masses to see the bigger picture or long term effect that such a system would have on humanity as a whole, Charity is eliminated, as well as community and relationships and the instant cure is a magic pill, a blanket of health care in a medical system that is also failing. Keeping the masses happy with food, vaccinations, pills, and entertainment is quite a strategy to have a tolerant law abiding society regardless of what moral compromises needed to take place to accept the laws to come In my opinion this system will be the cause an instant disconnect to humanity, encouraging people to be less dependant on each other and more on a system. Stearing their faith away from Christ on focused on man made hope that is bundled, packaged and branded as CHANGE.

        My church does establish many hospitals and clinics throughout the U.S .and the world. i.e. Loma Linda medical center, Kettering Medical and I do believe churches should encourage community health systems. I worked in the medical field for several years and witnessed incredible corruption in this field playing with peoples lives when it comes down to numbers and government programs were very much included in this.To think that the government will not take part in this themselves and promise hope and change and alleviate suffering is a false hope.
        Thank you Kurt for posting this blog, sharing your insight and allowing open dialogue!

  • Tucker

    As a fellow Anabaptist (sorta) I definitely sympathize with the dissonance about the Kingdoms of the World and the Kingdom of God. I do believe that ultimately, redemption and justice are the domain of the Kingdom of God. And, no matter what the government is doing the church has a responsibility to see to it that none among us go on in need.

    But that does still raise the question of what the role of the state is (rather than simply focusing on what it isn’t). It does seem to me that the responsibility of the state is to provide and ordered and peaceable society wherein people have the bare minimum for survival and some basic human rights, even if not true equity. And I do believe that healthcare is among those basic responsibilities that a government has to its citizens. Just as we expect the government to provide a just and competent police force rather than relying entirely on private security firms (as one example).

    Like Kurt, there are some pieces of the bill that passed that I am not thrilled with. But, when speaking to the more basic philosophical questions, I believe that people have a right to see a doctor when they’re sick even if those people are poor. And I believe it is appropriate to expect the government to protect and provide for that right, just as we expect the government to provide for a variety of other basic services for the sake of a functional society.

  • http://padreallenpsblog.blogspot.com/ Fr. Allen Peyton

    As a Christian I believe healthcare is a right. Whether the current reform is truly a reform time will tell. And yes, everyone needs to understand that our wellbeing begins with taking care of our bodies with proper nutrition, avoiding toxic substances, excercise, etc. But according to St. Paul, do we not see that our government may have been destined by God to protect our welfare including healthcare ? See Romans 13:1-7.

    • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

      I agree, Fr. Allen, that Romans 13 talks about proper respect and place for government, but I disagree with your application. Romans, as a pastoral letter to the congregations in Rome, was speaking into a society that was living counter to the standard culture of Roman. Having allegiance to God, they saw it perfectly justified to completely ignore Roman law. Paul, as I ready it, is basically saying, “They deserve your respect and, as far as the law aligns with God’s plan, don’t disrespect it.” I don’t think Romans 13 gives the secular governments the responsibility to take over Kingdom responsibility from the church.

      Government has it’s place. The church has it’s place. I believe, as I stated before, that we should live our lives as if the place of the church supercedes the government and should be our primary emphasis and impetus in our lives. Again, this does not call for a “quiet” stance towards government (prophetic word is necessary), but to instead live counter-culturally towards government and, even if government does not follow the Kingdom, this should not stop us from doing so.

  • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

    Tucker, I believe the role of the state is to provide order and safety for it’s citizens, to make a place for people to live their lives without fear of injustice and violence. I can understand the argument that the “safety” can be translated to extend to providing services like health-care, unemployment, and welfare. But, if the church is truly being the church (and I honestly don’t believe that it is in the US today as it should be), then those government services would not be necessary because the people of the Kingdom would be doing the work.

    So, we live in an imperfect society and there are things that need to be done to account for that imperfection. However, I think there is too strong of a current amongst Christians today to put the onus of accounting for that imperfection on our secular institutions and neglecting the gospel-necessary emphasis on calling believers to live and act justly in their own lives.

    Another look at it: the Old Testament Shema (Deut 6) calls upon people to write the law on their hearts. Jesus takes that and exemplifies it in his life. Rather than being dependent upon an external law to enforce actions and behaviors, Jesus exhibited what it meant to live with that internal heart-law, to the point, even, when the internal heart-law over-ruled the external law (e.g., healing on the Sabbath). By taking our social justice issues of the gospel and making them the realm of the government, we are essentially making more external laws. While it is not intended as such, the result, as I see it, is more reliance then on those external laws to govern society and societal actions and less reliance on people living a law of love and grace.

    Back to Kurt’s original post, the reason why the doctors couldn’t do the procedure was because of the restrictions placed on them due to the external laws. The answer, then, is not to do what the Pharisees did, that is, make MORE external laws, but instead to do what Jesus did and work in the hearts to make the external laws a moot issue. To rely on external government, to me, seems like we’re walking the path of the Pharisees, trapped in the law and unable to see the heart issues. The answer, I believe, is instead to live justly in our own lives as believers and to teach people how to live that heart-law. If those doctors treating Kurt’s mother were more driven by heart-law than external law, then government regulations be damned, let’s heal this woman!

  • Tucker

    Robert, I respect your opinion but I think you’re making several false equations here.

    First, the gospel’s call to hospitality and the state’s call to justice are not mutually exclusive. There is no reason that we cannot hold firm to the notion that we as the church are called to care for our neighbors in times of need while simultaneously recognizing the state’s obligation to provide basic services to the citizenry. And if the church is failing to live up to its call (and I agree that it is), we don’t rectify that by working backwards, by preventing the state from doing something similar. To extend the analogy from my previous post, the Church is called to promote peace and reconciliation. If the church were doing so fully, there would be no need for a police force because we wouldn’t commit crimes against each other in the first place. But one doesn’t promote the church’s mission or peace and reconciliation by eliminating the police force.

    Taken to its logical conclusions, this line of reasoning becomes eschatological. If the Church were fully, completely living out the gospel and inviting all persons into the communion of saints, it would essentially be the redemption of the world. There would be no need for governments at all, as the Kingdom of God would be the only government. I too long for this time and pray with the rest of the church “Lord, come quickly”. But the reality is that it is not yet the eschaton. We live in the “already, not yet” of redemption where, inevitably, the Church will not live out the gospel to its fullest purposes. This is why we need governments in the interim. And, as I said, I think that need for government includes a need for medical care to the poor.

    • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

      Tucker, I’m not calling for preventing the government from doing something. My concern is the emphasis of “The government is the ONLY way to solve it”. The emphasis from the church should be, instead, “Christ is the only way to solve it.”

      You are correct that the church should be for peace and reconcilation, but this does not prevent the government from providing protection. The church should be for justice, but the government should not be prevented from doing something about it. The difference, though, is that with a police force, the police force does not bring about peace and reconciliation, it punishes and exacts retribution where there is not peace and reconciliation. If we’re going to equate them, I think we should see, instead, the government instead of providing health-care, exact necessary regulations to prevent abuses and provide open-ness and freedom for doctors, like those who worked with Kurt’s mother, to live out their higher calling to “heal” and “do no harm”.

      We are not in the eschaton, again, no argument there. But it seems that the emphasis on having the government be the provider of these services seems to be the attempt to bring about the Kingdom through governmental action. That is the rhetoric I hear most about people who are in favor of more social services from our secular institutions.

      So, instead, where should our championing be? Should it be to champion the secular institutions which we acknowledge as flawed and, in most cases, certainly not in line with the Kingdom? Or should it be to champion the church and the Kingdom itself and advocate for it’s advancement, calling the church to a closer expression of the “already” Kingdom, acknowledging the “not yet”?

      • Tucker

        Robert, I think that our positions on this matter are closer than I originally guessed. Following our comparison, I would make the following statement. The role of the church is to call persons and communities out of the power of Sin (alienation from God, self, others, and creation) and into God’s renewed life of wholeness and reconciliation. The role of government is to mitigate the harmful effects of Sin in human society to provide for the basic safety and protection of its people.

        When the previous statement is applied to peace and reconciliation, I think we are in agreement. It is the role of the church to call our society into love of neighbor and peaceful reconciliation. When that does not happen, and there is violation and violence, it is the role of the state to mitigate the crime and reduce its harm as much as possible (the state doesn’t do a great job at this, for the record).

        When applied to health and physical wellness, I would argue that it is the responsibility of the church to call people into a redeemed relationship with their own bodies and with creation so that we learn to live in ways that are healthful, and learn to trust in God’s design for our world and in the resurrection of Christ so that we may learn to die in ways that are holy. And I would further argue that the role of the state to mitigate the effects of Sin that we continue to experience in the world so that harm and suffering are reduced as much as possible will mean the provision of medical care where it is needed.

        In the Kingdom of God we won’t need police officers, or teachers, or fire fighters, or doctors. Which means the church should be doing all we can to fill those roles for each other now. But for as long as we do need those services, it is appropriate to expect the state to provide them.

        So again, my answer to your last question regarding whether we should be reforming Church practices of governmental laws is “both”.

        • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

          With your last statement, Tucker, I think we’ve found the point of agreement. :-) While we can disagree on the specifics of what comes first, how exactly to do this, and so on, reform need to happen in both.

          Let me add that my emphasis on church reformation is not simply teaching living more healthy lifestyles, but even to live justly with our own financial blessings. There are many within our churches that have plenty, even to excess. Wouldn’t a good express of the church be to reform and teach that it is within keeping of the gospel for those of the church who have plenty share with those who do not have enough? If we in the church practice this among ourselves, and then even extend that beyond the bounds of the body into the people who have yet to find their way into the Kingdom, wouldn’t we begin a world transformation that would transcend any government or institutional program? Now we’re getting into idealism and not as much realism, but the point of an ideal is that should be a goal, not unattainable in Christ, but perhaps a continuation of the “already but not yet” idea of kingdom.

  • Juanita Carter

    Kurt, as you know I live in Australia, a country which has social healthcare. I can say- without any doubt whatsoever- that it has been a huge blessing. I have heard Americans say that they don’t want to pay other people’s bills, and would rather pay more for themselves than pay less or the same and have everyone benefit. To me that is very sad. Here we pay taxes and everyone benefits from Medicare. However, there are rules- for instance a requirement to own health insurance by a certain age or pay extra medicare levees. Also, public healthcare doesn’t cover things like dental and optometry. Which I think is fair.
    Socialized medicine has been a huge blessing- it helped me when I needed to go to emergency when I had a miscarriage, it allowed me to have my daughter debt free (I was in hospital for almost a week), and also gave me home visits from a midwife to check on her progress after being released. My husband has been studying the last couple of years and I have been making just barely $30,000 a year in a place where gas is easily twice the price of CA, a 2 bedrooom townhouse costs roughly $220,000 to buy (rent is just under $1000 a month), and a cheap shirt from Walmart still costs you a good $30. I could go on about how expensive it is to live here compared to California! But the point is, we are careful with our money, don’t have any debt, and stick to our budget as much as possible- and still with all of that if something unexpected were to happen we wouldn’t be able to pay for it. However, we don’t have to worry because we know that an emergency isn’t going to bankrupt us. Medical problems are scary enough as it is, and I think people are more inclined to take care of their complaints before they turn into serious issues because they are stressing about having to pay for every visit to the GP, or referrals to specialists.
    People still have private healthcare, and I have freedom to choose who I see, etc. In fact, should I choose a private GP medicare will refund me for part of the costs of the visit. So it doesn’t hamper the business of private healthcare at all. There are waiting lists for public healthcare surgeries, but these are usually the ‘elective’ ones and there is an organised system that takes care of the ‘urgent’ surgeries. People aren’t just left in need of medical attention.
    There are a lot of myths about what social healthcare really is and sometimes, as someone who has lived in the system for the last 5 years, it is frustrating to hear! The point is, is that if the USA would try to be open minded about it, they could figure something out that would really work well for the needs of everyone, not damage business for doctors, etc. and have more people living out of debt and healthier. It doesn’t have to be like Australia’s or England’s system, it should be their own. I don’t know how people with chronic conditions in the USA do it. It makes me sad because I love my home (California) and know what a struggle life can be for people when it comes to healthcare!

    • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

      Wow Cuz… This is a great perspective to bring to the table. You are an American living in Australia. If anyone has a legitimate voice to bring to this dialogue, it is you! Thanks for being a living example of the blessings of social medicine!

  • http://www.equalitycentral.com/forum TL

    thank you for this information. Now if we could just get it out to the American public.

    • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.com/ Robert Martin

      I think that it is out to the American public… and again, Australia is not the US… different kind of people, different culture, even different governmental structure. I wouldn’t be surprised if it works there. But our government is extremely corrupt at all levels so, while socialized medicine is probably a good thing in an IDEAL situation, the US political system and government system is FAR from ideal. Perhaps, in another age in the past or the future, yes… but right now there’s a lot of nepotism, cronyism, self-serving attitudes, “I need to get re-elected” mindsets, etc, in all levels of US government from the local to the national level that socialized medicine in the US is, in my opinion, just going to end up being another money pit of increasing bureaucratic red tape. The American public knows this and that is why they don’t want it… not that they don’t think that something needs to be done, but the people in power in the place to do it are NOT who we want doing it. That’s the problem.

      So, again… let’s get back to basics. We KNOW that secular governmental institutions who do not recognize the sovereignty of God in ALL aspects of human society are bound to fall, fail, and come up short. To quote the Mennonite Confession of faith. “But like all such institutions, nations tend to demand total allegiance. They then become idolatrous and rebellious against the will of God. Even at its best, a government cannot act completely according to the justice of God because no nation, except the church, confesses Christ’s rule as its foundation.” To depend upon such a government, and I think the US government is increasingly being one of these godless institutions, to act in a Kingdom like fashion is as much an idealistic dream as some say depending upon the institution of the church is. For me, I’d prefer to depend upon the ideal of the Church because the Spirit of God is in the Church (again, I mean the organic body, not the institution). That is what I’ll champion above all first.

      Again, that same confession says we should then be a witness to our government for them to act justly, but we should not depend upon our government to do our work for us.

      So, Juniata, I am extremely glad to find that the Australian system seems to be acting on this level of justice. That’s a fantastic thing and it is good to see a government acting such. But, to be honest, I don’t see the US government being anywhere near that level of justice, no matter what the politicians say. My choice: I choose the Kingdom above all and that is where I try and put my efforts, energies, and resources.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    Good thoughts, Kurt. And others. I too have seen faces, and it does bring a different perspective, to be sure. I also have friends who think we should be willing to die if we don’t have insurance and let it go at that. That we should not be dependent on the government.

    I’m becoming more in favor of both the private and public sectors being involved in the solution. Interestingly Europe is seeing the need to enlist the private sector to help alleviate the burden on the public sector. Though if I lean more one way than the other, it would be toward the public sector, that is, some sort of universal health care solution.

    God will judge all nations as to how they treat the poor and oppressed. Along with the fact that this should be a priority for the church.

    • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

      Ted, I always enjoy your perspective! Great thoughts!!!

    • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

      My primary problem with the universal health care solution from a national level is not the solution itself, but the implementation. In a nation as large as ours, with such a broad demographic spread as ours, with such a big difference from one region to another in needs, people, culture, etc, a national level universal health plan ends up being too generalized. Federal government regulations can be put in place to curtail and enforce excesses in the industry and combat corruption, but the actual provision of the health plan cannot be that generalized.

      Perhaps if plans were brought more local, then it would work better. That said, as Kurt pointed out in the original post and as evidenced in the increasingly bankrupt system in Massachussetts, even this is not a “silver bullet” solution because even at the state level, depending upon the state, the solution can be too generalized to be universally effective.

      This is why I believe that such plans should be even more localized to municipalities and such… at which point we come into the realm of the individual church congregations in the area… If we’re going to be working within the local regions already, why not use infrastructure and such already in place to provide for those who have a need? And, in keeping with our nation’s philosophy, why restrict it to just Christian institutions?

      So, bring it down to the level where people are in relationship with people instead of it just being a bunch of numbers and names in a database. That’s the way to effectively meet needs, both physical and spiritual.

  • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

    Robert – I would love to respect your opinion even though I disagree with you as other’s here have so graciously done. But to be honest it just sounds like a bunch of religious mumbo jumbo. How in the world do you think that a church can provide healthcare that requires millions (maybe billions) of dollars of equipment and facilities??? Universal Health Care, Single Payor Systems nor Public Options would do nothing to undermine or diminish the work that Christians are called to do. There would still be plenty to do to help, care for, assist and love others if we had government run health care.

    And yet, there seems to be nothing that we can offer you to change your mind. The testimonies of people who are experiencing social health care first hand and say it works well is shot down by you because you believe America is so unique (believe me, corruption runs throughout humanity all across the world – just as goodness does). The appeals for compassion are useless. The real life examples of Americans without health care don’t move you (your well wishes reminds me of the priest who passed up the Samaritan as I always figured the priest probably offered up a prayer for the Samaritan as he walked on the other side of the road). You are sure you are right and nothing moves you.

    Me – I’m not sure what is right, but I am sure that I want to err on the side of being too extreme about making health care available to all people in our country. I want to take the risk that social health care is the answer because it is something that might provide health care for people who are alive and suffering right now. It is working other places and there seems like a good chance that it could work here. I’m not sure, but I think it is the best shot for doing something in the short term. I want to have a radical kind of love and compassion and take the risk for the sake of others. And to tell the truth – how risky is it really??? Could it really be worse than our present situation?? We don’t really have choices in our present situation – we are just under the illusion that we do? We are already being taken advantage by a corrupt system!!

    • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

      I’m sorry you see me that way, Liz. That is the danger with internet communication because of some of the anonymity inherent in a bunch of text on screen.

      I agree with you that government programs would not prevent the work or diminish the work that Christians do. What I disagree with is that such programs are the GOAL of the work that Christians do. Consider: What if there were no government programs, at all, for anything. Yes, this is a REALLY bad situation. What does the church do then? Follow up question: if the church fills in the gap then, despite all the finances, and such, why can’t we strive for that now?

      Correct, the church is not a hospital and is not in the business of performing surgeries and such… but it is in the business of providing justice through righteous living. Idealistic or not, if the church does it’s job of transforming people’s lives to live rightly in relation to God, other humans, and the creation around us, would there be a need for government programs?

      As mentioned elsewhere in this same set of comments, my point is not a “quietness” stance towards the government and not speaking at all towards the government being less oppressive and more justice minded. My point is a slight shift in what I see as essential priorities. Kingdom first, then everything else. And, as I read the gospel, the Kingdom of God transcends the kingdoms of this world. It over lays and over powers all those other kingdoms and can live either in harmony with them or in spite of them.

      I believe that if we live Kingdom first lives, if we teach Kingdom first theology, and if we act Kingdom first in everything that we do in this world, then everything else will come to pass as it should. WIll it be perfect? Nope. But then, everyone already admits that our existing system of government and even with the health-care reform bill we have are both imperfect. In light of that, which perfection should we be aiming to?

      Provision of health-care can stay the realm of the professional doctors and nurses. The financial cost of that care, I believe, is better suited to being handled from a Kingdom perspective with those who have plenty helping those who do not have enough, not out of a mandate of external law, but out of a genuine love, compassion, grace, and mercy that comes from a transformed heart.

      Call it religious mumbo-jumbo if you will, but that’s the scriptures that I read, that’s the Jesus that I see in the gospels, that’s the Paul that I read trying to make sense of a theology applied practically, that’s the law of the Old Testament “written on the hearts”. Yes, please, let’s call our government to better social justice. But, in the mean time, let’s be sure we make first things first and put the Kingdom first.

      • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

        One other point: What I tend to see in this discussion is that both myself and others here have the same ultimate goal: to see people of all walks of life treated with justice, love, and compassion, have their physical needs met, and for them to feel that love and compassion in a genuine way.

        The only difference I see is the means to that end. For me and some others, we see the means to that end through life transformation which leads to acting justly. I try my best to live that out. I preach life transformation from the pulpit, write about it on my blog… but I also then live it out in my interaction with the unwed mothers, the poor, the disadvantaged, and the oppressed that I meet every day. Chief evidence of the latter is that, 5 years ago, I gave up 10 days of personal paid vacation time to fly to Houston (my expense) to sort and track laundry for the refugees from Hurricane Katrina for 10 hours a day.

        Others see the means to work within our governmental systems to bring out a greater sense of justice in how our government works within those areas of our society, enabling certain social programs, regulating excesses within the system, and providing for those who cannot afford on their own.

        In truth, BOTH means to the end are Biblically sound in their own right and have merit in truth. Really, the only difference is in emphasis, which way do we seek as our primary goal and motivation.

        Again, the anonymity of the internet masks this. All there are are words on the screen and we forget that there are people behind those words. I do my best, imperfectly, to try and remember that. All I ask is the same consideration.

      • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

        Perhaps I misunderstand you but it still feels like you pit the two (Kingdom living and social health care) against one another where as I see social health care as a result of Kingdom living.

        • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

          I guess I do kind of pit them against each other and I am attempting to explain why. Again, the best way I can put it has to do with a place of emphasis. Social health care can be a result of kingdom living but, at the same time, it should not be our be all and end all because, as I read the gospel and the Scriptures, I see the governments of this world, while not always antagonistic towards the Kingdom, at the same time they are not necessarily aligned with the Kingdom. This latter point is where the church can come in with a prophetic voice calling the governments towards better justice and social awareness. But I believe we have to recognize that governments, as I quoted elsewhere, do not have as their primary tenet, the Lordship of Christ and so are, in many ways, anti-Kingdom in that the goal of a worldly government is to advance that worldly government in many ways that may even be counter to the values of the kingdom. Case in point: the US military.

          So, in that light, I choose instead to keep the church reaction to the state to be that prophetic role and ambassadorial role and even live out my political life (voting, etc) within that role. (I have been told by some that John Howard Yoder in several of his publications calls for the same stance.) In the meantime, while speaking prophetically to the state, I strive to move the Kingdom forward in the hearts and minds of people with the hope that, as lives are transformed and changed at all levels of society, that society will be changed fundamentally. The hope is that there will be more people acting as I did in situations like Katrina. There will be more people that, when finding out that a single mother and her infant child are living in an apartment with no furniture and no food, will rummage through their attic for their own baby cribs, clothes, beds, and mattresses. There will be more people that, when finding out there are people living in a run down shack on the mountains of Appalachia will give up their vacation to go down and work in the hot August sun to give someone a non-leaky roof for the fall and winter precipitation.

          But that being said, while I hold this stance and find it, according to what I see in the Scripture, being in keeping with the gospel of Christ and, again according to what I see in the Scripture, that such work should be done with or without government assistance, I cannot deny the truth that the possible result of the prophetic word to the government is the enactment of social health services.

          As I said before, it’s a matter of priority. We can speak truth to the government and rejoice when it listens and tries to act justly. But if it doesn’t, that is not a problem because the alternative is that the Church-as-the-body will instead stand in the gap, exercising personal sacrifice out of love, compassion, grace, and mercy that comes from a life transformed by the Spirit. For me, it’s Kingdom living on the community level first… and again, if the government wants to join in, they are more than welcome. They way I see it is that the Kingdom should always be moving forward and, as it does, we in the Kingdom should be calling over our shoulders to everyone else, saying, “Come and join us!”

          • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

            Sorry… I’m very verbose… All that to say that I don’t see the two views as incompatible, just that I see them as a fundamental difference of order of importance.

          • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

            Robert – (before I begin let me apologize for letting my frustration turn into being harsh with you – that was wrong of me)

            Thanks for responding and clarifying. I don’t think I disagree with anything in the last comment you made – following in the way of Christ is my first priority and is what leads me to passionately cry out for social health care for the sake of so many that continue to suffer because of the lack of health care available to them. I appreciate your willingness to do good to and for others and I also strive to live in the same spirit. All of that to say that I have no problem or disagreement with the belief that we should first and foremost focus on ushering in the kingdom of god.

            One concern I have is that I get the impression that you are saying that the spirit of Kurt’s post (and possibly those who agree with his post) place more trust, more emphasis, more allegiance, more hope in government than in the way of Jesus. Now, that could be the case, but it shouldn’t be an automatic conclusion. Perhaps you have had that sort of battle in your own life and so, as we all tend to do, you might be projecting that on to others (we do tend to judge others according to our own unique experiences), when in fact, living in the way of Christ being their highest priority may be what leads many Christians to so passionately call for social health care. As I mentioned before in so many words: living as a follower of Christ (kingdom living on the community level first as you put it) is what informs my position of pro social health care and my impression is that Kurt also places Kingdom living on the community level first and that is what has led him to write this post.

            So – we don’t disagree about what is most important and what should be our priority but I am curious – if you could vote today (i am assuming, like myself, that your faith influences the political decisions you make) would you vote for or against social health care? I ask because I have lost track of where I think you stand on that issue.

          • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.com/ Robert Martin

            Honestly, I would vote against it, and here’s why. It is not because I want to see people suffer, nor do I want to deny social justice, or any of those things. It is because I do not think it is a wise path for our country to follow in light of the other issues plaguing our country. One other part of the Mennonite ethos is the idea of good stewardship of the financial gifts we are given and, quite frankly, I don’t see our federal government doing so. We spend too much on defense in doing military actions where we have no reason being (why do we still have a military base in Germany?). We have bankrupted our social security system by basically robbing the coffers when there was a surplus and then not having the money to pay it back. We are bailing out banks, car companies, and all sorts of other financial decisions, throwing good money after bad over and over. I see our government right now as being financially irresponsible and, while the idea of a universal health-care system is a laudable idea, now is not the time.

            Additionally, a federally mandated universal health care I think is too distanced, too big, too vague, too nebulous to do the right amount of good. I would suggest that health care systems such as that would be better regulated and organized on a more local basis. States may even be too large as within a state even the moderate size of New York there is a wild discrepancy between the needs of the Metropolitan New York area and the center or western edges of the state.

            So, no, I would not vote for a health care reform from a federal level at this time, not because I think government as a concept is inherently evil, but because I think our current nationwide situation and the high amount of government level wastefulness is such that we need to see some more fundamental reforms happen before any health care reform will do any good.

            Which is why I stress something more on the lines of working relationally with people on the level of the local community. Relationships between people are the keys I see to truly have effective social justice, not mandates by a distant government. Changing the hearts of people so that they can see with God’s eyes in their every day lives I feel, right now, is the start of that “fundamental reform” that will combat the greed, envy, materialism, and consumerism that plague our society. I think, also, this level of work will, ultimately, have an impact on government. Rather than mandating from a government level and having to convince people after the fact, I see it more effective at working in the hearts and lives of people and, out of understanding God’s vision and mission, choosing to create effective and just government programs.

            Again, it’s a matter, for me, of emphasis and priority.

  • Peter Thomas

    Thought to consider…The Apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh three times. Many scholars believe this “thorn in the flesh” was some type of physical affliction (eye sight, speech problem, etc.). Would Paul have been better off or better equipped for ministry if Rome had a universal healthcare system that gave him lasik surgery? I believe we error when we focus completely on the external well being (health, poverty, money, etc.) of humanity and not the heart condition.

    Also consider Phil 4:11-13

    …I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

    This is a popular verse with powerful applications to any human trial. It seems to me regardless of whether I am healthy or dying, rich or poor, starving or well fed, all believers have a remedy to all of life’s circumstances…JESUS CHRIST. And I will put my faith in Christ over the American government’s healthcare system (regardless of my health condition) any day.

    • http://www.equalitycentral.com/forum TL

      Your thoughts might be more convincing if you said them while suffering for a condition that you couldn’t get any treatment for because you had no insurance.

      I suspect that if Paul were alive today with bad eyesight, he might make some effort to have it corrected. It would be much easier to serve God well, if one can read and write. To die is to be with Christ. To live is to live FOR Christ.

    • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

      Peter! First let me say I am honored to have a life long friend like you come by my petty website :-)

      Second, hear my comments not as criticism of your character, but rather of your paradigm. You are a man with more integrity than possibly anyone I have ever known, and your family is one who practices the compassion of the Gospel even if you don’t like to see it legislated… for this, my respect is through the roof.

      So, I guess my first comment is that I agree with you in many ways until you make claims about Paul’s usage of the Roman Empire. Any time in the book of Acts that Paul’s Citizenship comes up, it is always to benefit his life and mission in some way. If Paul lived today in America, it is not a stretch to imagine that he would take use of anything that would help either his life or ministry, even if it was offered by the government’s own system. He was a Jew, so claiming his roman citizenship meant it had “governmental” privileges. Not every disciple had this luxury, but Paul certainly took full use of its privileges.

      Secondly, if you or a family member were in a life-threatening situation that required health care, I have a hard time believing that you would simply “give it to God” and refuse public medicine (this scenario assumes economic hardships in your family would be present that would make such a last resort). Yes, we certainly give ourselves to God and his provision, but why couldn’t that come through public health care? Given the right scenario I think you would do whatever it took to save life! Pro-life means that we do all we can to save it. If we want the government programs to not allow abortion for instance, we should also want to save life after a child is outside of the womb. One vs. the other is an inconsistent life ethic. When the means are available, then we ought to extend those means as many nations throughout the world have discovered… especially in the wealthiest nation in the world.

      Third, what makes the government evil, and the private sector saintly? I get the impression from folks with your view (in this thread and outside of it) that the government is evil but businessmen are all honest hard working people who are trying to provide a service. If that were true, medical coverage and medical treatment would not cost way more than it needs to. Again, sometimes the private sector can act as evil as the government, and in this case it has acted worse.

      Finally, I agree with you and I want to end on a positive, that we must learn the “secret of being content in any and every situation.” (great passage… pretty sure a close friend and I attempted to memorize that letter of Paul’s :-) ). God calls us in every situation to ultimately rely on his provision and to trust in his unfailing love. Not sure of your views of the supernatural these days, but I actually believe that the Holy Spirit could choose to supernaturally heal people as well, and we ought to pray for such! My contention is simply that this does not negate the possibility of public services such as health care. God doesn’t wish suffering on anyone and a day is coming when all pain will be done away with. Until that time, we always should ask (with Scripture as our guide), “What will alleviate the most suffering?” Not “What will allow me to keep the largest portion of my pay check?” (I don’t see support for that view anywhere in Scripture).

      Blessings bro, and we really should catch up in person soon!!!!

      PS – Political ideologies have ZERO to do with friendship in my mind 😉

      • Peter Thomas

        Kurt, thanks for complements, certainly I hope that the things you said about me and my family are the result of God’s grace. I agree that we should catch up soon (3rd kid will be coming in Oct/Nov, so I’m staying busy)

        Here’s my quick response:
        1. I never suggested that Paul rejected his Roman citizenship or the privileges that it offered
        2. I never suggested that I (or anyone else) would/should reject healthcare coverage
        3. I never suggested that the private sector was saintly
        4. I never mentioned anything about taxes (your last line)
        5. I do not agree that lack of universal health care equates ethically with abortion
        6. Main point is that with healthcare or without, we are called to be people who live the gospel when faced with trials (including health problems), while recognizing that God arranged (or allowed) our circumstances. I do not see healthcare as a remedy for the fallen human condition and therefore I don’t see the value of advocating for it (or against it) from a Christian perspective (I don’t see any call for political activism in the NT).
        7. I fundamentally disagree that our guiding philosophy should be “what will alleviate the most suffering” if what you mean by “suffering” is external things (health, money, poverty, etc.). I believe that what will alleviate the most suffering is people knowing Jesus as Lord/Savior and I don’t believe that the U.S. healthcare system will help people to that end.

        I will close with this…As a Christian 1st and an American 2nd, I must be obedient to the Lord in submitting to my government in as much as it does not conflict with the God’s Word. With that said, I will be content (try to) regardless of the outcome universal healthcare or any other purely political topic.

        • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

          Peter… I agree with the grand scope of what you said here and may have misinterpreted a few things that you said. I also made some presumptions that I assume were behind some of your thoughts and this may have been a bit unfair. I agree with this statement whole heartedly: “As a Christian 1st and an American 2nd, I must be obedient to the Lord in submitting to my government in as much as it does not conflict with the God’s Word”

          I disagree with you on the call to justice, even if this has some public/political ramifications in the Bible… but this is always secondary to our call to be kingdom citizens. I think we can completely agree with that!

          As far as heart versus external condition… the bible calls us to care about both. In fact over 500 verses in the new testament are about provisional justice for the marginalized and poor. How we achieve such ends are debatable, but it is not debatable that the call is in there. Justice issues are mentioned more than heaven in the New Testament… heaven matters, but so does the conditions of this life.

          This is a much longer conversation. If I could invite you to read two books, they would be:

          A New Kind of Conservative, Joel C Hunter

          The Myth of a Christian Nation, Greg Boyd

          The two above books would bring about some real common ground in my opinion (and no, they are not “liberal” books :-) )

          Finally, I am excited for you guys! Another baby! Awesome stuff…

  • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

    Peter – Wow – the lack of caring propped up with bible verses!! It slays me.

    • Peter Thomas

      Liz, I regret if you took my response as not caring. I do care and feel compassion for those who suffer and serve through my church to meet the needs of other church members, the community, and foreign missionaries. It was my first attempt at a blog, so maybe it wasn’t articulated too well. It is ABSOLUTELY the role of the church to serve those in need both within and without. But I believe we must do this with the view our circumstances have been arranged (or allowed) by God and the ultimate goal is not a “health body”, but a “healthy heart”

      TL, I agree that my argument would be more convincing if I was sick, but I’m not. My prayer would be that I would respond the way I posted given the opportunity (if you can call it that).

      • http://ballymennoniteblogger.blogspot.,com/ Robert Martin

        Three years ago, I had to decide whether or not to let my mother slowly starve to death or to kill her through surgery…

        Yes, we had health insurance… but the pain of that kind of decision was still there. Peters words read true to me because of having to make that undesirable decision. We chose the slow starvation… actually, check that, my MOTHER chose that. Why? Because she recognized that sometimes its just your time and, instead of facing death with fear, she faced it with hope knowing that what was coming after the dark door of death is what she had been looking forward to all 64 of her years on earth.

        That’s the kind of healthy heart that I think Peter is talking about and I think that is a very laudable goal for everyone. Paul, in 2 Corinthians, I think saw his issue with the same healthy heart…he desired greatly to have the thorn remove but learned that sometimes the better path is to learn to depend upon the grace of God than it is to seek the physical healing.

        Is this the right path for everyone? Definitely not for everyone’s circumstances and everyone’s situation is different. But a healthy heart is still always the goal, to be able to meet each situation and make our decisions, not on our own selfish desires, but in keeping with what appears to be God’s will and timing and depending on, in faith, God’s grace to be sufficient.

      • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

        Liz and TL… as you can see from my longer comment above, I will vouch 100% for Peter in this regard. This is a political difference we have, but trust me, he is a man of character and self sacrifice…

  • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

    Peter – sorry I came across so harsh – I just don’t think it is a good idea to use bible verses about suffering and sickness unless we are using them to point to ourselves (even then we should be very discerning) – when thinking of other people’s plights I think it is more in line with Christianity and Jesus to use verses that talk about us loving others, caring and providing for others, making other’s situations less painful. I think that first we are called to meet physical needs.

  • http://couchradical.wordpress.com RyanDunn

    Great post. Great conversations. Don’t have anything to add that hasn’t already been stated better by someone else. Just wanted to let you all know you’ve helped bring clarity to my view on the subject.

  • Shari

    Thank you Kurt for that real life example of the sorry state of our health care system. Thank you Rob for linking to this site. Kurt and especially Liz have articulated my feelings about health care and how it relates to our faith.
    The government oversees our right to breathe clean air, have access to safe drinking water, 13 years education, electricity and affordable food. These are things no one expects the church to provide. Why is access to affordable government provided healthcare any different than the above necessities of life? Just asking.

  • Ann Penick

    I have spoken very little about my situation, but I’ll add my face to the need for healthcare reform. 2 years ago my job was downsized in Boston, MA. With that job I had excellent healthcare through Tufts Healthcare Plan. Thankfully I found another good job closer to family in MD. But the healthcare situation leaves me wanting. When I took this new job my new healthcare plan sent me a letter informing me they would not cover my current medications nor would they cover my doctor visits ($192 a visit) because of my pre-existing conditions. What are these conditions? High blood pressure (which isn’t all that high) but the doctor wants me on the meds to keep my blood pressure lower and Attention Deficit Disorder for which I’m taking ritalin to help me do my job. After fighting with my health insurance company for nearly 4 months, my doctor wrote them a letter telling them she was seeing me for more than just these “pre-existing conditions.” As a result, my health insurance is now covering my doctor visits. However, I am still paying out-of-pocket for the meds, which, fortunately I can afford at $20 a month. But what if they were $200 a month? Even $50 a month? I just don’t think this is fair or just.

    • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

      Ann, I am sorry for this injustice. I wish that this was an isolated incident, but it is not. The system is unjust even for those with crappy coverage.

  • http://profile.to/davidmarsilia/ David Marsilia

    From a philosophical and spiritual perspective I’m mostly in agreement with Peter Thomas here. Lets also take a look at the historical and economic conditions that have us in this dilemma in the first place. Kurt states, “Sure, the private sector or the church could pay for her medical bills in an ideal world, but are you willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars out of your hard-earned money for everyone in my Mother’s plight?” Isn’t this just what socialized medicine is doing? Using the power of the state to make everyone pay for anyone without the means. In the early part of the century Christian run medical facilities did provide care for the indigent. Employees, employers and craftsmen formed mutual aid societies to spread out risk and the private insurance industry began to develop.

    Spreading out risk is a great idea, but it can go to far. In times of prosperity it seems like a good idea, so congress passed laws giving corporations tax breaks if they provided medical benefits. Soon the customer of medical services and the providers where no longer connected and as what always happens when markets are interfered with the price exploded. The mutual aid societies and the charity hospitals began to fold and gobbled up by this system and regulation began to attempt to control the cost. It’s very difficult to put this kind of genie back in the bottle but socialized medicine is bankrupting Europe and us as well.

    Radical change is required of the health care delivery system, including the ending of tax subsidies to corporations for private healthcare insurance. Companies have an intrinsic benefit to having healthy employees and our society to a healthy citizenry but socialized medicine is a scheme which defies basic economic principles.

    I can point to benefits folks close to me have received from Medicare and myself and family from private employee provided health insurance. That’s the system in place short of competing with multi-billion dollar insurance companies and the power of the federal government for services from the highly regulated and controlled medical service community. Doctors who have tried to move out of this system to a pure fee for service system immediately can eliminate entire staffs of insurance administrators and lower prices. They face problems gaining access to hospitals and some have formed their own. This is not done solely or primarily because of greed but by doctors who want to actually practice medicine without first having to check with an insurance company and now increasingly the government.

  • http://profile.to/davidmarsilia/ David Marsilia

    Sorry, for the awful grammar, syntax and tone of my remarks. Its quite difficult to boil down, not just a generation or two, but nearly a century of misguided and inefficient policies that have created escalating costs and barriers to service.

  • http://mystic444.wordpress.com mystic444

    Robert Martin said: “I cannot deny the truth that the possible result of the prophetic word to the government is the enactment of social health services.” And: “…I don’t see the two views as incompatible, just that I see them as a fundamental difference of order of importance.”

    This has been a very interesting post and comment section. I’m glad I didn’t read it until all of these comments had been posted. That way I was able to see Robert’s comments go from what initially sounded like he was saying “Church, YES; government, MOST CERTAINLY NOT” to the clarification that he recognized that both areas are legitimate, but the Church (or Kingdom of God in our hearts) should be the primary focus. With that I think I am in essential agreement.

    I too tend to be verbose, but I want to keep this as short as possible; so I’ll try to just mention a couple of major points without trying to fully develop them.

    The way I see it, one’s position on “government health care programs” is largely influenced by how one views government. One popular view is that government and “the people” are entirely separate and distinct, and almost necessarily adversarial. Therefore government is considered undesirable, at best a “necessary evil”. For this reason, those who hold this view will want to keep the “hand of government” out of “the people’s” business as much as possible. This group will of course oppose “government sponsored health care”.

    The other view is that government is not separate, distinct from, and adversarial to “the people”; it is in fact an expression of “the will of the people” – “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people” as former President Abraham Lincoln so famously put it. In fact, government is seen as ordained by God Himself for the GOOD of the people. In this viewpoint, the government becomes the tool whereby the people, under God, provide for justice (including “social justice”) and the welfare of the people in general.

    From this second viewpoint, all people who love “liberty and justice for all” cooperate in electing representatives who will work to see that those ends are accomplished. And in a religiously pluralistic society, it is recognized that others besides “Christians” can love God and their neighbors, and desire “liberty and justice for all”. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and even agnostics and atheists “who [though they] do not have the law, [nevertheless] do by nature the things required by the law…are a law for themselves…since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts…” (Romans 2:14 and 15) can cooperate together by means of their commonly elected government representatives to fulfill the just requirements of “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”. That would include providing for the health care of all of their “neighbors”.

    It is that view of government to which I am trying to adhere. It is an ideal, which we have a long way to go to fully achieve; but it is an ideal toward which I am quite willing to aim. Is there corruption in government? Certainly. Are “the people” pure and uncorrupted? Certainly not. The corruption of the people and the corruption of government go hand in hand. And this is where the “prophetic voice” of the people of God comes in. We appeal both to “the people” and the government elected by “the people” to turn to loving God with all their hearts, minds, and souls, and loving their neighbors as themselves.

    What disturbs me greatly is an attitude with which I am confronted very frequently (though not, I believe, by anyone commenting here): “If someone is poor, or in poor health, it’s more than likely his own fault and he deserves his poverty and poor health. I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility to help them out, and I resent it that the [adversarial] government is forcing me to do so by ‘robbing’ from me [via taxation] and using that money to support lazy slobs who are too poor (through their own fault) to care for themselves”. I read and hear this sort of idea (perhaps not put so bluntly – though sometimes it actually is) frequently; and I expect all of the other commenters here do also. For such people, government decree and enforcement is necessary in order to compel them to fulfill the “social contract” which we have (explicitly or implicitly) with each other – the law of God’s Kingdom which rules over all (whether or not that law is “in our hearts”). If we have to be compelled to fulfill it, that’s to our shame; but that’s why we have laws, and enforcement of those laws.

    So in principle I support health care legislation. I don’t know or understand everything that’s in the recently enacted legislation (I’m not sure ANYBODY knows or understands everything in that massive legislation), but I accept it in principle.

  • Denise

    While I can have empathy for those with no health care…I strongly disagree to socialized medicine. You see in my home, we have two adults with cancer and a daughter with so many medical needs it would take pages to list. She is disabled with many ailments, and because of this we have a different opinion and one that also has a face. If it were not for our personal health care coverage, our daughter would have been denied many things by our state health care. Because she is deemed to NOT be an asset to society she would be overlooked for transplants should the need arise as well as even her seizure disorder would not be as well treated and she would get the treatment that would keep her comfortable but not keep her alive. She would not even be here today if it were up to the government run healthcare.

    We have paid many co-pays and sacrificed a lot to have our healthcare to provide for our family. While our insurance is not perfect and we spend many long hours fighting for what she needs…it is what we must do. I am making no complaints to that because God has always provided what we need when we need it. All three of our children have had what they need when they need it. They know that God is our provider. My husband works hard and has had to sacrifice so much to give our children what they need.

    We have been told by those in the “state” healthcare system that our daughter is not an asset to society, that we should really consider a DNR for the hospital so to put us all out of our misery. I am here to say that she is a HUGE asset to our family and to our society. She has taught us how important the little moments in life are, she has taught us of unconditional love and that we do for family. She has also reminded us that her life is precious…..God loves her dearly and He knew before she was ever formed…..pretty amazing!!! She has taught us more than anyone can imagine. Yet there are those people who would say because she cannot contribute to society she should be denied certain things in the medical field.

    Socialized medicine will limit what we can do for her. Not to mention we will get the added burden of paying even more for other people’s healthcare. I am all for helping and being a part of the solution, but GOVERNMENT RUN HEALTHCARE IS NOT THE ANSWER!!

    I do not want anyone telling me that the cancer medication my husband is on will be discontinued when he hits a certain age…he has the right to that medication and again that could be taken away with socialized medication.

    So when you say that healthcare has a face….ABSOLUTELY it does. That is why I am so passionate about keeping the government out of this arena.

    I have a VERY DEAR friend whom I have known for years. She has had diabetes since she was a child. She has taken immaculate care of herself and this past year was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney disease. She is now on dialysis. In the midst of this struggle she had a brain trauma that has left her disabled. She has two teenage boys and is one of the most amazing women I know. While she is on a transplant list for her kidney she is now gone down on the list because she is disabled. This told to us by a doctor. So because she is not an asset to society as she once was she can be denied this RIGHT!!! TELL THAT TO HER FAMILY!!! Tell that to her friends who love her. She is believing God for a miracle healing and I stand firm in that belief with her.

    We have become all about things being “fair” but what we really mean is “even”…and that does not exist. When one of my children say “Mom, it isn’t fair….” They usually mean they want things even…..and that is not ever going to be. Because “even” is NOT fair. My response to them is that if they want it fair then they can only do what their sister can do…which means that our oldest would be wearing a diaper and crawling instead of walking just like our disabled 10 year old. And of course they do not want to do that and that is not what they mean….but it is what they are saying.

    We need to do what we can to help those around us…we need to look on others with empathy….we need to make sacrifices to meet needs….what we DO NOT need is the government to take over healthcare to get us there. NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!!!

    Finally I have a sister who too has a very bad back and knee. She too has NO insurance and needed have knee surgery. They live at a very low income level and she needed the surgery. She did it and will have those medical bills for a long while. She still fights for what she needs and prays like crazy…and the Lord always provides what she needs for the month. She also knows there are grants and things available to her should she need even more care. She also accepts the fact that she is choosing not to sacrifice certain things for the healthcare coverage due to the expense. Yet she too does not agree with government run healthcare….I am so proud of her for that because she is living it!!

    The scriptures Peter posted earlier in Philippians could not be more appropriate and are truly ones we try to live by. To be content no matter what the circumstances we are living in..that is what the Lord would want from us. That is something we choose to live by.

    I am sorry this post is so long….and I know that everyone has their own experiences….so this has been just a small glimpse of ours. While there are many arguments for and against government run healthcare, I know that I can rest in knowing no matter what happens God will provide for my family…end of story!

    • Terri-Anne Williams

      Denise, I am not sure where you live, but I am a social worker in California and I have to tell you that our government health care (AKA, Medi-Cal) provides very good care for those who have it. In fact, most people on Medi-Cal have better coverage than those who pay a private insurance company. As for your friend on the transplant list ~ I am sure that she was not put further on the list because of her disability. There are many variables that need to be considered in the transplant waiting list, regardless of whether you pay a private company or use government health care. They have to look at whether or not you can survive the surgery, estimate your chances of survival after surgery, who needs it sooner, etc., etc. There are more people who have transplant issues from their private insurance companies who deny the transplant because of loss of profit, than there are of people in government health care. In government health care there is no profit ~ it is just done. I work with disabled adults ~ I have a lot of clients with a lot of medical problems. They all have Medi-Cal and Medicare ~ both forms of government health care. I can tell you that they are very well cared for and get much better care than my family does.

      • Denise

        Terri-Anne, While I appreciate your point of view we are living it. I am very familar with the Medi-Cal and Medicare systems and I don’t dispute they are helpful to some but not to all. Fighting for those things in OUR experience have been far harder than anything we have done for our private insurance. I am not saying that NO ONE is cared for only that there are guidelines. I do not know what your experiences are other than working with disabled adults….I think that is great. But we live this daily. So does my friend and I have seen what is being done. I am not fabricating information I am seeing it live and in person.
        There are going to be positive and negative on both sides….mine was only my experience…well meaning workers of the system that have told us to have a DNR for our daughter. Well meaning workers that tell us to institutionalize our daughter….things of that nature. While I don’t dispute there are needs being met….we will find people on both ends of this. That is why I shared my story just as Kurt did.
        I know what my friend has gone through and what she has been told. I have heard it from health care professionals as well. You made the comment…
        “I am sure that she was not put further on the list because of her disability. There are many variables that need to be considered in the transplant waiting list, regardless of whether you pay a private company or use government health care.”

        I can assure you that is exactly why. It is the same reason we were given at one point when they thought our daughter might need a transplant. And we explained to the health care professionals that it was not for them to determine but we would fight for whatever our daughter needed if we felt that is what the Lord would have us do. Her life is not for them to decide.

        I can appreciate your opinion but please do not use that statement of being sure that it was not that way….I did not fabricate the story it is real and the TRUTH!

        Thank you!!!

      • Lori


        I can attest to what Denise has stated about the level of care and denials, etc that the government run healthcare in the state of california offers. On June 19, 1990 my brother was involved in a single car accident that changed all of our lives forever. My brother was 19 years old, and had worked hard for that past year so that he could start going to school and get a college education. He suffered from a life-threatening head injury, multiple broken bones, a fractured spine, and was in a comatose status for close to 6 months. He spent a year in the hospital, and was basically sent home to die after that first year. Today, 19 years after his release from the hospital, he is still alive and thriving. But certainly not because of the government run health care. In all honesty, once he got out of ICU after 5 weeks, most of his health care needs were denied by medi-cal and the doctors, therapists, surgery centers, rehab centers, hospitals, and my mother had to appeal 80-90% of his necessary medical expenses. The reason they were denied? Because he would never again be a productive member of society. They declared that he would never be more than in a vegetative state. Well, because of answered prayer of our friends, family, and people that I will never meet this side of heaven, and because of Drs, therapists, etc that believed that he deserved better care than the state was going to allow for him by their (very limited) list of allowed expenses, we had a team that was willing to fight for my brother and my mother and they fought the good fight. With no thanks to the list of allowed expenses/medications from medi-cal within 3 years (3 VERY LONG, VERY HARD FOUGHT years, my brother was speaking again, he was feeding himself, he was walking short distances with the help of a walker, and he was taking himself to the bathroom. All things that the medi-cal system had denied him initially (but thanks to appeals he got what he needed, and for some things, they went through the appellate process NUMEROUS times) because he would no longer be a productive member of society.

        if my brother had not had my mother and I as advocates for him, he would have been left to die after the first 3 months of being in the ICU. And not because of the doctors or facilities, but plain and simple because of the government run health care system.

        I do not believe that the government run health care system is the ansewr to the reform that needs to take place in our country. I don’t really know what the answer is, but I don’t think that gov’t run health care is the answer. Our country is SO FAR IN DEBT we are losing our standing in the world’s economy…..and this single initiative is going to cause so many economic problems, I fear that our country will not be able to recover. We simply can not afford this!

        • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

          Just want to say that my father had VA care and it was very good – a little inconvenient but the care was excellent. Also, my mother in law`

          • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

            sorry – about the partial comment – my dog hit the keyboard LOL – I finished up the comment and it posted further down.

  • Kristen

    There is much more wrong with the system than just the insurance industry. My nephew was in an accident and had a helicopter flight to a nearby hospital. The cost? $25,000. And they didn’t even do anything medical for him during the flight!

    Does this charge bear any relationship whatsoever to the actual cost of the flight? Who knows? The public is never given information as to medical overhead costs. We just receive the bills, grit our teeth and pay whatever the insurance companies don’t cover.

    When I had insurance, my doctor gave me a prescription for a medicine that was also available over the counter, because my co-pay would make the medicine cheaper. Then I lost my insurance, and discovered that the actual cost the pharmacy was charging was $70 for 60 pills. The exact same 60 pills were for sale on the other side of the aisle at the same store, for $20.00. Needless to say, I canceled the prescription– but the pharmacy clerk told me people with prescription drug coverage have no idea how much the pharmacy actually charges, because all they pay is the co-pay. The cost of making this medicine can’t be much more than $10.00 for 60 pills, because that’s what the over-the-counter price reflects (with reasonable markup). So who is pocketing the extra $50 that the insurance company pays on this?

    The American system is corrupt. The public was incensed a few years back to read about the $500 toilet seats that contractors were charging the government for military uses. But we are like lambs to the slaughter when it comes to our own outrageous health care costs. When is this going to end?

    Probably when something is actually, finally done about the Congressmen who live in lobbyists’ hip pockets.

  • MarinePatriot

    The government will remove the face and name of health care to replace it with a number. It will be a very large number and it will significantly decrease the ability to provide real health care to all. Everyone should have an abundant access to aspirin though!

    What is sad is that we have examples in other countries that some people completely ignore because we would rather the government take care of the needy rather than look at the face and learn the name of those suffering around us. Oh please, Uncle Sam, don’t let me see the suffering, just take care of it for me. We should pray to God for real compassion and not more socialistic government programs that take a dollar and return 25 cents to the people who actually need it.

    We have lived in a socialist democracy for so long that this is the answer to providing health care. Unfortunately the answer is to take from those who earn and give it to those who don’t. We could easily provide for widows and orphans if we weren’t providing for those who desire not to work.

    What is laughable about a compassionate government is that there is no compassionate government…this is merely a power grab to gain more dependent voters…

  • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

    Just want to say that my father had VA care and it was very good – a little inconvenient but the care was excellent. Also, my mother in law lived with me and my family for her last 7 years and her medicare was excellent and less of a hassle to deal with than the supplemental insurance she had. Nothing is perfect but my experience with government run health care has been good.