Turning a Blind Eye to Healthcare. ~ Jeff Fulmer

Via elephant journal
on Jul 7, 2012
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Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski

When the Affordable Healthcare Act was upheld by Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court, it seemed nothing short of miraculous.

As expected, the Republicans immediately began their full-throated outrage of “Obamacare,” promising to repeal it every chance they got. Fundamentally, this law is about insuring the uninsurable by creating bigger pools of patients and providing lower cost alternatives.

Despite all the rhetoric and hyperbole, the fact is, this law will help a lot of people.

That fact alone makes this a moral issue that at least everyone who professes to be a Christian should care about.

In Jesus’ day, if you had an ailment, there was a belief that you had somehow brought it on yourself. When asked why a man was blind, Jesus had to explain.

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned.” (John 9:3)

In our “modern” society, most of us don’t subscribe to the notion that victims of cancer or Alzheimer’s somehow had it coming. However, there is a thought that if you’re poor and/or uninsured, you don’t want to work for your bread or your blood work.

While that describes a popular belief in our nation, it is not based on anything resembling “Christianity.”

Jesus did not turn anyone away, in spite of the fact that many of those he healed were ungrateful. Never-the-less, he was drawn to the most desperate cases: the lepers, the blind beggars, the cripples. These were the people who didn’t have many options when it came to healthcare.

We’re told that the infirmed would go to the pools of Bethesda where the first one to get in after the water was “stirred” (supposedly by an angel) would be healed.

A crippled man explained that since he didn’t have anyone to help him, he could never get in first. (John 5:7)

Even this method was rigged against the sickest in their society.

We have come a long way in medical treatment from the pools of Bethesda, at least for those who have insurance. However, many Americans are deemed too sick for the health industry and of course, in a cruel twist, these are the very people that need insurance the most.

And so, the uninsurable are reduced to wading into emergency rooms and free clinics as if they were the pools of Bethesda.

Dr. Thomas Smith, who helped establish a free clinic that visits rural parts of Tennessee, said that the current system is not sustainable. The system is clearly broken, leaving millions to seek out help wherever they can find it.

Perhaps it’s worth stepping back to consider why Jesus chose to heal people in the first place.

Sure, it was a good attention-getter, but he could have demonstrated his divinity in any number of ways. He could have summoned lightening to smite his enemies or hovered in mid-air over the crowd while he spoke. Yes, he walked on water and cursed a fig tree but, for the most part, he was a teacher and a healer.

Why? Well, he seemed to have a great big heart for people who had been condemned to a life of pain and misery, people for whom relief was out of reach.

After Jesus healed the crippled man at Bethesda, the Pharisees were outraged when they learned that he had been healed on the Sabbath. While they were obviously threatened by someone usurping their authority, it’s also apparent they did not have a lot of compassion for the sick.

They wanted to squabble about the correct time and place to heal someone rather than simply help them. In a not too dissimilar way, this country has debated healthcare for sixty years without any significant movement until President Obama stepped up and, at great political risk, led the effort.

In the 9th chapter of John, Jesus heals a blind man by placing mud on his eyes. After the Pharisees criticized this healed man and threw him out of the synagogue, Jesus sought the man out to heal his spiritual sight as well.

“I have come into the world so the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (39)

Jesus wanted the blind man to recognize the man before him as the Son of Man and the light of the world. This spiritual awareness is the beginning of every Christian’s journey.

As we progress as Christians, we should begin to see the world through the eyes of Jesus and having compassion for the sick is a basic character trait of Christ.

While we can’t put mud on a blind person’s eyes and expect them to see, we do have other ways to heal a multitude of crippling diseases.

To do so may require sacrifice and re-prioritizing our goals. There will always be people who would rather argue about when and where to help than to actually do something about it.

However, when we turn a blind eye to the needs around us, we are exposing our own spiritual blindness.

Jeff Fulmer lives in Nashville, Tennessee and is the author of the blog and the book Hometown Prophet. If God spoke through a prophet today, would we really want to hear what he has to say? For more information, visit the Hometown Prophet website. He welcomes followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook.



Editor: Jamie Morgan

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9 Responses to “Turning a Blind Eye to Healthcare. ~ Jeff Fulmer”

  1. […] this law is about insuring the uninsurable by creating bigger pools of patients and […] Source RELATED NEWSRoundtable: Supreme Court Ruling Ensures Coverage for Millions, But Doubts Remain on […]

  2. guest says:

    This situation didn’t start yesterday with the “health care industry” having everyone by the balls and everyone crying out to government to save us. It started many decades ago when a few companies were trying to sell legitimate insurance to individuals. Then, FDR, in his infinite wisdom, implemented wage controls. Since they couldn’t compete with higher wages, companies started offering health insurance to current and prospective employees. Thus was born the third-party payment system where a health care provider not only didn’t negotiate with the patient, the insurance company didn’t negotiate with the patient either. So, rather than third-party payments, we had fourth-party payments. And, the curse of Other People’s Money started controlling the health care industry.

    Since the patients didn’t negotiate with insurance companies or doctors directly, they had no incentive at all to save money or avoid costs. They also had every reason to lobby their congresscritters to make sure the insurance companies “did the right thing.” And, since the patients weren’t paying, everyone with something to sell, whether drug treatment practices or chiropracters or individually-wrapped-syringe manufacturers, were ready to demand that their products were legitimate health care costs that had to be covered by insurance. So congress and the bureaucracies kept adding to the “minimal standards” for an insurance policy. Of course, to pay for all this, the insurance companies had to increase the price to the employers or negotiate lower prices from the health care providers or both. Which then requires congress to come save us from the corrupt insurance companies who don’t want to meet their obligations.

    And, for some reason, minimal attempts to reconnect the customer (patient) with the cost, like copays and HSAs, are considered immoral. So the solution is to completely break the concept of insurance and just make the “insurance” companies publicly controlled healthcare utilities. If you don’t have the concept of pre-existing conditions, coverage caps and actuarial pricing, you don’t have insurance. You have a regulated utility, much like the power company. Except, rather than selling a single, managable product, where they own the production facilities (dams, power plants, wires, etc.) they have to negotiate with thousands upon thousands of individual service providers and, at the same time, try to compete with other “insurance” companies doing the same thing.
    The current situation isn’t an open market where individuals purchase services from health care providers, and it hasn’t been one for a long time. It’s actually the final stages of a continued attempt by stupid politicians and bureaucrats to control something so they can look like they are giving people something for nothing. And, it’s due to most people’s desire to get something for nothing that they’d always rather believe that Uncle Sam will finally get it right and make the mean ol’ insurance companies give them their due.

    Socialism never works. It always requires more and more reductions to liberty to make the system do what people want it to do. The US is in the last stages of implementing a completely socialistic health care model, which still won’t work when we cross the final threshold. This set of laws won’t fix a competitive market because we don’t have one. This step will just complete the collapse of the pretend market we have so people will demand the government fully socialize it. Then, it will just keep getting worse, because that’s what socialism does. But, politicians will keep their power through the next election and the properly placed people will get a bigger cut of the money flowing around. And the actual patients will still get screwed.

  3. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd to Health & Wellness, Enlightened & I'm Nt Spiritual.

  4. Jeff Fulmer says:

    In response to the 1st comment, if "socialized" healthcare doesn't work, why does every other industrialized nation have a more "socialistic" version – and yet they all pay less than we do (per person) and have longer life expectancy? What clearly doesn't work is the more capitalistic system of healthcare that we have had. Personally, I don't think healthcare should be an unregulated, for-profit industry… That is the system we've currently had: a social Darwinism where only the healthy/wealthy can afford the service. Not a very smart or ethical approach, IMO.

    In response to the 2nd comment: if I understood you correctly, wouldn't Affordable Healthcare fall under Health and Wellness part of your mantra? Also, does "enlightenment" come with any real world concerns, or do you just float above it all? Just curious.

  5. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Your heart's in the right place when you want universal med care. For a lot of people, if your heart's right, that's good enough. But…

    This article virtually states that govt medicine is a Christian position. It's not. Govt anything means authoritarianism, i.e. enforcement thru the guns and jails of the state. THIS, to my way of thinking, is contrary to the supreme non-authoritarianism of Jesus.

    We haven't really had a free market capitalist system in medicine in close to a century, ever since doctors started using govt to control the market thru regulations on numbers of med students and thru restricting to doctors procedures that could be done much more cheaply and sometimes better by midwives, nurses, bone-setters etc. Then, after the ignored but critical usurpation of rational insurance described by Guest above, we've had the double punch of ballooning costs and declining voluntary free medical care.

    My English friends here in Japan joke about British health insurance. Yes, it's cheap, but you could die of old age, if not the problem itself, before you reach the front of the line for an operation. In Japan, they've managed to keep lines for ops reasonably short but at the sacrifice of doctors, who are extremely overworked. (Did I read that they see 30 times as many patients as American docs?). My VERY liberal niece, who loves Pres. Obama, makes an exception for, as she calls it, Obamacare. She's been spooked, after seven years in Toronto, by the lack of time that doctors spend with patients there and their seeming lack of compassion compared to American docs.

  6. Jeff Fulmer says:

    What the article asserts is that is is ethical (and, yes, Christian) for the government to providing a system that helps lower income individuals gain access to healthcare. It's ethical to hold insurance accountable so they can't discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions and they have to actually use (85%) of the premiums toward healthcare (and not bonuses). It's ethical to make sure kids have access to healthcare. It's ethical for those on Medicaid to have an annual exam, along with screenings and preventive care.

    At the same time, it forces "free-loaders" who can afford healthcare to get on board the system (as opposed to going to Emergency Rooms when they are sick.) It is very aggressive about going after Medicare Fraud… recovering over 4 billion in 2011. Most importantly, it creates larger pools of insurable people, which any actuary will tell you leads to lower overall rates.

    This is a good law that will shake up the system… a system that was already broken…. Yes, it will take some adjustments, but in the end, it will be a very good thing for the vast majority of Americans. And it's also the ethical (Christian) thing to do too.

  7. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Hi Jeff. Actually, let me rephrase my assertion, or at least an implication. I don’t want to say that supporting govt health care is un-Christian. Just that Christians can easily take either side of the issue and still be Christian.

    Hate to jump on you for that, but if it’s any consolation, it’s not just you. I often see columns here at Ele claiming that Jesus or Buddha would be a Democrat or that they would support the Democratic agenda, and I always jump on those, too. Of course you can find Republicans on conservative political/cultural sites (and yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that Ele is more a political/cultural site than a spiritual one) making the equally absurd assertion that Jesus would be a Republican.

    As for specifics, I can’t find much fault if I limit myself to your vocabulary. Nothing wrong with “providing, helping, non-discriminating, making sure of access” etc. But how do you get any of that without resorting to guns and jails? You CAN make a case that the supremely non-authoritarian Jesus would not authoritarian solutions. Also, there’s the workability problem. If you’re interested, I address one major aspect of that just a bit in my reply over on: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/07/caste-syst

    Good day to you!

  8. Jeff Fulmer says:

    Mark, Read Matthew 25: 31- 46. Jesus gets pretty authoritative, telling everyone that when he comes back, he's going to separate them out according to what they did for the 'least of the these.' (visit those in prison, feed the hungry, look after the sick, etc.). If they didn't help those types, they are considered "goats" and will go away to eternal punishment. The people who did are considered "sheep" and have eternal reward. Doesn't get much more punitive than that.

    For the Affordable Healthcare Act, there are fines that can be accessed by the IRS, not guns or jail. But the government does have the right to enforce it's laws, otherwise no one would follow them. When I was a kid, I didn't like to see a police car because I thought they could cause me more harm than help. But now that I'm middle-age, I still check my speedometer when I see a police car, but I'm overall glad they're out there, because I feel like they're protecting me. That's the government should work.

    The government, like a gun or jail, can be a very bad thing or a very good thing. In my opinion, the Affordable Healthcare Act is a big step toward restoring basic fairness and actually doing something for a typically disenfranchised part of society (the least of these). No, it's not a perfect law, but I don't think it will bankrupt this county and the CBO agrees. It will however, help millions of people gain access to healthcare and I can't see how that's not a Christian thing to do.

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