My Congressman, Jim Moran, recently held a town hall to answer the questions my neighbors and I have about health insurance reform. Like so many other town halls during this Congressional recess, it was was packed with people on all sides of the issue. My favorite blog, Wonkette, had the best coverage of the event.
As I watched the event on C-Span, I was struck by one sign captured by the television cameras. It asked a simple question: “Who Would Jesus Insure?”
When I pose this question to my friends on the far right wing of the Republican Party, they get very uncomfortable, particular those who are Christian Evangelicals. (Let me clear, they aren’t squirming over the fact that the question fails to use the pronoun “whom” which would make it grammatically correct.)
No, their discomfort is over something much more significant.
From their political point of view, they believe that government screws up everything it touches and it shouldn’t get into the business of regulating health insurance. (I don’t think that makes any sense, nor do I believe there is much evidence to back up this point of view, but that’s pretty much what my right wing friends think.)
That’s not to say these folks are opposed to universal coverage — they aren’t. They just think the private sector, particularly the religious faith community should step up to the plate and take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves.
I call this casserole dish health care. It’s a bit naive and rather 19th century in its thinking.
I think about a young man from my church. He was diagnosed with lymphoma as a high school student and underwent several months of cancer treatment at a local pediatric hospital. Later, as a college student, he was diagnosed with cancer in his pituitary gland — the doctors believe this second round of cancer came about because of the radiation he underwent during his lymphoma treatment.
Fortunately, his parents have excellent health insurance and he is doing well. (Both cancers are in full remission.) The family still faced tens of thousands of dollars in co-pays, but it was manageable given the family’s income. If the young man’s father had lost his job though, the family would most like be deemed “uninsurable”.
For the sake of argument, though, let’s say that the family had no health insurance. What kind of care would that young man have been given?
Throughout his two bouts with cancer, our congregation brought meals to the family — lots of casserole dishes — as a sign of our support. They appreciated it a lot and it continued for months on end.
But we didn’t pay this family’s co-payments. And had this family not had health insurance I don’t know what they would have done. As a congregation, we wouldn’t have been able to raise the funds to pay for his entire treatment — the bills approached a million dollars.
What I don’t understand is why my fellow believers — those on the religious right — are so violently opposed to using the government to reform our health insurance system so we can give everyone the kind of health care treatment this young man got.
They know that the Jesus whom they worship just like me would want everyone to have equal access to care. If that sign, ” Who Would Jesus Insure?” had an answer, it would have read, “All of Us!”
But instead, the self-styled “Pro-Family” groups from the religious right are actually defending the insurance companies rather than standing with families. They also are lying when they claim that the government would get into the business of paying for abortions of imposing “death panels”.
Is that what Jesus would do?
I don’t think so.