Thomas Galvin
Purveyor of Fine Pulp Fiction

Triquetra
Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general -Mark Rippetoe

I just watched a video of a “prayer-in,” where a few of the minor Evangelical celebrities got together with a few of the minor Republican celebrities to invoke the wisdom and aide of God Almighty.

Their goal? Defeating health care reform.

First, let’s establish a few ground rules:

1. The proposed health care bill does not fund abortion.
2. “Obama’s Death Panels,” and variants thereof, are a fabrication.

Please keep those things in mind, if you chose to debate me.

Anyway. This is probably the fifth such prayer meeting I’ve seen, and it honestly leaves me wondering: when did American Christianity stop following Christ?

That’s harsh, but understand where I’m coming from. The Jesus I read about was pretty big on “living in peace with one’s enemies” and “caring for the poor, sick, and disenfranchised,” but the Jesus I hear preached in these meetings is more about “preemptive military action” and, I don’t know, HMOs or something. It seems an awful lot like their God is dictated by their beliefs, and not the other way around.

Now, there are good reasons to be against the current proposal, the lack of a public option and the individual mandate being chief among them. The thing is, these failings are largely because of the Republicans, or at least the Democrat’s attempts to barter with them. It isn’t the particulars of the bill that the Republicans are against, but the idea itself. The idea that we, as a society, should provide health care for one another is repugnant to them.

And I just can’t square that with the Scriptures they claim guide their lives. I mean, when he commissioned his disciples, one of Jesus’ charges was to heal the sick (Mt. 10:8, Lk 5:17, Lk 9:2, Lk 10:9, etc). And yes, I know he was talking about miracles, but isn’t regular old medicine a good place to start? First in the natural, and all.

And then there’s his famous parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus castigates the goats, in part, because he “was sick and in prison, and you did not look after me.” And what does Jesus do with these people? He damns them. Literally consigns them to hell for their heartlessness and cruelty.

All of this happens in Matthew 25, if you don’t believe me.

So we have a God that tells us to love our enemies, and bless those that despitefully use us (Mt. 5:44), and a political party that pounds the drum of war. We have a God that tells us true religion is looking after orphans and widows (Js. 1:27), and a political party that says they’re pretty much on their own. And they claim to be the ones that fear God?

I honestly cannot reconcile the platform of the Republican party with the God they claim to worship. So I leave it to you: where am I wrong? Where did my hermeneutic err? What Scripture did I forget? What, exactly, am I missing?

“If somebody told you that there is a plan out there that is guaranteed to double your health care costs over the next 10 years, that’s guaranteed to result in more Americans losing their health care, and that is by far the biggest contributor to our federal deficit, I think most people would be opposed to that. Well, that’s status quo. That’s what we have right now.” – Barack Obama

One of the biggest reasons people protest the Public Option is the idea that having universal coverage will put too much stress on the health care system, leading to long waits for necessary procedures and a rationing of care.

First, I want to make clear exactly what this argument is saying: “if they get health care, I might not.” Or, “we need to deny them access to health care, so that my experience is better.” This line of argument is utterly selfish.

But I want to focus on a different fact: health care is already rationed.

Sarah Palin argued against public health care because, in her own words, “bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether [a person is] worthy of health care.”

That’s already the way it is.

I’m a software engineer, and my skills are both useful and relatively unique. Because of that, because of my “level of productivity in society,” I am fairly well compensated for the work that I do, and part of that compensation is health insurance.

I’ve managed to avoid any major medical disasters so far, but I did break a couple of my teeth in a gym accident a while back, and I ended up needing extractions, crowns, and bridges to fix them. My insurance paid a good portion of the expenses, and I paid the rest – a couple of thousand dollars – out of pocket.

But what if I wasn’t a software engineer? What if I was a janitor, or a school bus driver? I wouldn’t have had such good insurance, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to pay my expenses out of pocket. I would have been denied treatment, because of a “subjective judgement on my level of productivity in society.”

And what if it was something worse? What is I had a heart attack, or cancer? In my position, I would stand a chance, but what about someone who isn’t quite as “valuable” to society? What are they supposed to do?

Sarah Palin’s child, who has Down’s Syndrome, has received the very best care, because the Palins are rich. But a mother working two jobs just to put food on the table couldn’t afford that kind of care. Her child would be denied care, because his mother wasn’t quite productive enough.

We already ration health care, and the criteria is “who can afford it” versus “who cannot.” Is this right? Is this fair?

The nightmare scenario Palin lays out already exists, with one caveat: there isn’t even a panel you can appeal to.

Cost

America spends approximately 16% of its GDP on health care. In 2007, this amounted to about $7,400 per person, for a total of almost $2.3 trillion. Projections indicate that the current health care system will account for nearly 20% of the GDP by 2017. Health care in America costs more per capita than in any other developed nation.

Medical costs are the leading cause of bankruptcies in America, at nearly 50%. 75% of people who file for bankruptcy due to medical costs have health insurance.

Results

The CIA World Fact Book ranks America 46th for highest life expectancy, and 41st in the world for lowest infant mortality. Countries that have lower infant mortality rates include El Salvador and Cuba. The World Health Organization ranks America 72nd in overall health.

Coverage

America is the only developed nation in the world that does not provide universal health care. According to 2006 Census data, 45 million americans have no health insurance coverage, including 9 million children. 36% of Americans living below the poverty line have no health insurance coverage.

Canada

The World Health Organization ranks America 72nd in overall health. Canada ranks 35th.

In America, administrative overhead accounts for about 33% of the cost of medical care. In Canada, administrative overhead accounts for less then 2%.

The American Government spends 18.5% of its budget on Health Care. Canada spends 16.7%, while providing universal coverage.

Public Opinion

More than 75% of Americans support a Public Option. More than 50% of Americans are dissatisfied with the current employer-based health insurance system.