WWJD on the Affordable Care Act

I’ve always liked Jesus’ style. Throughout the Gospels, he’s out there to help everybody who is sick. He’s helping blind Bartimaeus by the Road to Jericho, as well as the sick daughter of the wealthy Jairus. The Nain widow’s son is brought back to life, and the Roman Centurion’s son is saved. That’s because rich or poor, Jew or Christian, and even those beyond the faith, people need help from our afflictions.

Health care legislation often gets knocked, but it’s out there to help as many as possible. And we are capable of being a pretty generous lot. Think of all the healthy folks donating their blood and bone marrow to those in need, often never know the person whose life they are saving, with little more than a cookie and a cup of Coke for a reward, in addition to know they’re doing the right thing.

But health care isn’t cheap, and Congress is currently trying to make changes that will leave millions uninsured. The latest bill eventually was scrapped late Friday. While the president has moved on, the changes to the Affordable Care Act could come up again.

They are taking up an idea I’ve always liked: the Health Savings Account (HSA), which I’ve recommended in prior columns. But there’s a problem.  HSAs don’t roll over from year-to-year.  I’ve suggested Congress take up allowing this change, which could be a lifesaver for many families. Like fans of Atlanta sports, I’m always optimistic that this will be the year for a breakthrough. It would help, but not be enough to overcome what’s coming.

While tax credits seem like a good solution, those proposed would be barely a third of what they are now. And capping the total amount of care a person can receive….I wonder if the members of Congress considering this plan know of someone with a debilitating condition. Neighbors of ours have a son who has been unable to walk or speak since birth, with constant care required.

It used to be that some people could comfort themselves by thinking it’s a minority problem. The opiate addiction and the locations it strikes have busted that myth wide open. And if you think it’s the result of the ACA, you may want to get the facts on this. News coverage of the problem may be recent, but the problem isn’t new.

Health care problems don’t just strike the rich and poor, those of faith and those without. They also hit conservatives as well as liberals pretty hard. I watched a town hall event in West Virginia, in a county as well as a state that voted heavily Republican, where residents realized they potentially were going to get the hammer of health care coverage changes come down squarely on their heads. At a place considered Ground Zero among opiate addiction, the planned clinic to treat the problem now won’t be built, and those miners with black lung from coal dust are about to lose their protections, just as they voted for politicians who they thought would help them.

I also have relatives in Alabama, who loyally back conservative politicians, hoping their policies were going to assist them. It breaks my heart to see them potentially betrayed by those they counted upon to employ Christian principles to protect them.

Whether protections for ordinary Americans are gutted or not, I think we’re all going to have to rely on our places of worship to step in and fill the need like never before, if they can. Prayers will also have to be supplemented by acts of faith and generosity.  But there’s more that needs to be done. Each elected official will need to look into his or her heart, and ask himself or herself WWJD?

 

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College.  He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu.