Three Further Notes On The ACA

Three Further Notes On The ACA January 15, 2017


Whenever one discusses healthcare in America, one runs into all kinds of interesting people with diverse opinions. Some of these opinions are ill-informed. Sometimes I’m at a loss as to how I can inform people, and then I remember that I have a blog.

Here are three tips:

1) “Communism”refers to a classless society (that is, a society without division into social classes, not a society that behaves like Donald Trump) where there is no private property, the means of production is owned by the workers and the goods are distributed according to need. “Socialism,” which is considered a transitional step from capitalism to communism by communists, refers to an economic system where the means of production, distribution and exchange are held by the society. Neither one of them means “expanding the social safety net in some way and raising some people’s taxes.” They certainly don’t mean “the government passing laws which happen to inconvenience me personally,  but which aim to ensure that the poor do not die.” If you misuse the term “communism” to mean “any and all government policies that cost the taxpayer money,” you sound like a toddler who refers to every single kind of meat as “chicken.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but you sound ignorant.

Let’s all start referring to communism and only communism as communism, and only socialism as socialism. To quote my favorite philosophy professor: “If you do that, you’ll look smart. You might even be smart, but you’ll definitely look smart. And sometimes, that’s all that matters.”

2) When someone says “my child or I might die,” it’s unbelievably spoiled and bratty to retort with “Yeah, but my insurance deductible went up.” Life is more important than money. It is indeed a bad thing when needed services like insurance become more expensive, and that should be fixed, but it’s in no way comparable with dying. Given a choice between saving a poor person’s life and inconveniencing a middle-class person, common sense and Catholic social teaching demand that we inconvenience the middle-class person every time. Better to take from the rich what they doesn’t need and won’t miss anyway, mind you, but in any case lives simply are worth more than private property. Human beings have the right to live, whether or not they can afford to keep themselves alive through their own means. It is the duty of any society to keep its poor and vulnerable members alive, and it is perfectly just that the society fund this in ways that end up costing its richer members money. That is not theft– and no, it’s not communism. It’s called living in a society.

3) And then there’s this guy:


I’ll just call him “Blue.” Blue responded to my post on the Patheos Catholic feed the other day by claiming that the only moral way for little Nadja to be kept alive was for individual donors of good will to pay her medical bills themselves.

Libertarians, in my experience, come in two groups: there are the sadistic kind who honestly believe that it’s right and just to let poor children die, survival of the fittest and all that. And then there are the naive kind who don’t understand what anything costs.   It would be wonderful to live in a world where a kindly stranger could hand my friend Ksenia a fat roll of bills and she could use them to fund lifesaving treatment for her child, but that’s not the way it works. Remember the toddler I mentioned who referred to everything as “chicken?” In this analogy, libertarians are her six-year-old sister who is saving up pennies to pay the mortgage so Daddy won’t have to work nights anymore. It’s a lovely thought, but it’s not going to work. Ksenia’s treatment cost $36,900, and she needed sixteen doses. Private charities and generous individuals are not going to be able to cover that.

Ksenia is feistier than I am. She actually contacted Blue privately to ask him where she was supposed to get that money. To her great surprise, he answered with a plan:

Yes.  Ksenia was supposed to ask her parish to pay for her treatments.

Again, it’s a lovely thought. I would be beyond pleased to live in a world where local parishes took care of all the medical bills of sick parishioners. That would be splendid. But the fact is, no parish, let alone Ksenia’s small Eastern parish, is going to be able to take up a collection for sixteen payments of $36,900. My small Eastern parish took in $1299 last week; that and whatever they make in pierogi sales go toward all of the catechism programs, church upkeep and paying church employees, not to mention keeping Father in a house and a car with enough gas to drive to celebrate Liturgy at his other parish in the next town.

They bantered back and forth some more, with Blue absolutely flabbergasted that Ksenia’s parish was so stony-hearted as to not cough up money for her treatment. He went on and on about how sinful it was that Medicaid exists because he’s afraid thousands of people use it to purchase an abortion; he’s apparently never heard of the Hyde Amendment:


“She just doesn’t deserve to live.” He said it.

And he finished up with this zinger:


Yes. It was “selfishness” that Ksenia used medicaid, not to save her own skin, but to save her child’s life. Ksenia, who was severely ill and on bed rest for months; who suffered unimaginable physical and emotional pain, just for a chance at keeping little Nadja alive. A true pro-lifer would be in awe of Ksenia, but not this guy. This guy says that a mother wanting to keep her child alive is selfish if she uses Medicaid to do it.

Lord knows the ACA is flawed. Lord knows a replacement might well be a great idea, and we can talk about that. We can discuss and debate different ways to replace or amend it, and we can do so respectfully and intelligently as if we were grown-ups.

But for mercy’s sake, everyone, don’t be a Blue. Don’t make a fool of yourself and everyone else who is against abortion by acting like this. And don’t be a person who calls everything “communism” or someone who mixes up life-threatening illness with having to pay more money, either.

Show a little class– yes, even if you’re a communist.

(image via Pixabay)



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