Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Reform

March 22, 2010

This morning I am grateful that sooner or later, in one way or another, the vast majority of people in this country will be able to receive healthcare through a proper insurance program. I have never imagined that such a change would not cost me something and confess that I am not really excited about paying for it. Nonetheless, removing some of the absurdities of our current system such as sick people not being able to get insurance and emergency rooms in public hospitals serving as primary care for the uninsured clearly needs to happen. I’ve heard two speakers at our ‘eggonomics’ breakfasts on this subject and have been given reason to suppose that some, if not all, of the provisions of this bill will end up in various courts as one interest or another resists change. It is also clear that we are going to need a lot more doctors than we currently enjoy and that there is some danger of standards being ‘relaxed’ in order to get them. These kinds of things, together with the fact that some of the provisions of the bill are not intended to take affect for some years from now mean that we will not really know what reform will look like for some time.

President Obama made the case early on in his tenure that the economic meltdown was of such significance that we would not be ‘getting back to normal’ and that many of the stressors had to be addressed along with regulatory reform. Our extraordinary healthcare system was chief among them. At a parish forum yesterday leaders of our vestry shared that we do not yet really know what ‘the new normal’ looks like even if the contours are beginning to emerge. We know that for us it will not be ‘just like it used to be but with less resources’. Part of what we mean when we talk of ourselves being ‘a worshipping community, growing in Christian faith, through engaging God and neighbor’ is that we will work to help one another grow in our capacity to face or roll with or respond to the challenges that life presents us. I have no doubt that reforming our healthcare system will touch everyone of us sooner or later and that adjusting to whatever the change means will be challenging. I’m also clear that whether we were for or against the expansion of our system to include tens of millions more Americans in it, we are no less beloved of God this morning than we were yesterday and that we will continue to support one another in times of joy and sorrow in the community of faith.


Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder if there ever was a "normal". And it amazes me that there are people on both sides of this issue that feel that the problem can be fixed quickly. It took many years to dig the hole we find ourselves in. It will take many more to fill it. But at least we seem to be using a shovel now.For that I truly thank God.
Roy Coker

Mark Siegel said...

What I don't think is sufficently understood is that the recent legislation, though a good first step, does not reform the American healthcare system. Rather, it changes how people will access and pay for health insurance, which is just one element of health care.

I don't think President Obama has addressed with forceful clarity that health care (as opposed to health insurance) should be a fundamental right in a democracy, and that we should work to ensure that right, in Malcolm X's phrase, "by any means necessary." We aren't there yet.

Mark Siegel