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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Would God Back Universal Health Care?

Here are some good thoughts by Oliver Thomas on USA Today:

Oliver Thomas is a minister, lawyer and author of 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job).

He is also the Executive Director of the Niswonger Foundation of Greeneville, TN.

Religious texts give us a good idea. The common theme: Don’t turn your back on the needy.

By Oliver Thomas

Mixing church and state might be inexcusable, but the influence of religion on our political views is inevitable. Accordingly, the First Amendment does not prohibit laws that reflect our religious values as long as those laws have a secular purpose and effect. So it is curious that, until recently, little has been written about the moral dimension of the health care debate. The focus has largely been on how to pay for insuring 46 million uninsured people in America and whether to provide a so-called public option. At last, religious leaders are stepping forward to explain what our Scriptures and religious traditions have to teach us about the most important domestic policy issue to come before the Congress in recent years.

The answer, it turns out, is a lot. Not directly, of course. Our Scriptures were written long before talk of deductibles, pre-existing conditions and single payers. But indirectly, the Christian, Hebrew and Muslim texts have much to say about the quality, availability and affordability of health care. …

Such "care" extends to health care. The legendary Jewish scholar and physician Maimonides listed health care first on his list of services that a city should offer its residents. …

Christians find similar teachings in the New Testament. One of Jesus' most famous parables is about health care. A Samaritan traveler happens upon a seriously wounded man lying by the side of the road. The Samaritan attends to the man, dresses his wounds and pays a substantial sum for his care and recovery. Jesus ends the story by telling his hearers to "go and do likewise." …

For Muslims, the Holy Quran contains multiple admonitions to attend to the needy. …

Nevertheless, Cigna insurance executive turned whistle-blower Wendell Potter testified recently that the insurance industry fearing competition is engaged in a campaign to scare Americans away from any sort of public plan.

In truth, says Potter, America's nearly half-century-old Medicare program has proved itself an efficient choice. Administrative costs of Medicare? Less than 5%. Of the private plans? Closer to 20%, according to Potter.

Jesus admonished his disciples to be as innocent as doves, but he also warned them to be "as wise as serpents." Let's hope Congress can be the same. Read More

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