And He Healed Them All

In the news today:

Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

This, of course, is straight out of the religious right’s anti-LGBT playbook, right along with protecting bakers and photographers and other businesses who want to discriminate. This case, however, stands out for me, because of the direct Biblical implications.

Jesus, among many other things, was a healer. Throughout the Gospels, he heals numerous people, of a variety of ailments: blindness, leprosy, a withered hand, bleeding, even death. He heals people, by touch, who were deemed unclean and unacceptable by the culture of the time. Where other healers wouldn’t go, Jesus went. He loved the unlovable, not in word, but in deed.

thehealericonMost importantly, Jesus never refused to heal anyone.

To take just one example, flip to Matthew 9:20-22. In this story, found in all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus heals a woman who had “been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years,” via her touching his cloak. By Levitical law, she is unclean, and he is made unclean at her touch. In the time of Jesus, this would have been unthinkable and dangerous. Being unclean was the worst thing a Jew could be, according to the Law of Moses, and the rituals required to become clean again, not to mention the massive inconvenience to a person’s life in the meantime, were onerous.

Yet, Jesus never hesitated to heal her. He did not get angry at the women, call her unclean, worry about his own cleanliness, and by extension, his own soul or salvation under the law. Rather, he simply healed, and by healing, loved unconditionally. In fact, he went so far as to tell the woman that her faith had healed her. That is, the courage and trust that she showed in coming to him, was greatly rewarded.

Those who are sick today, who might be considered unclean or unwanted, because of their gender identity or who they love, also come to health care providers in trust, and with courage, believing they, too, are worthy of their humanity, and thus of being made well and whole. I would hope that any health care provider, and especially those who heal under the name of “Christian,” would emulate the unconditional nature of Jesus, and heal all in need. No conditions, no consequences, no caveats.

This attempt by the Trump administration, and the politicized religious right, to divide and dehumanize, to make “us and them” relevant categories again, to try to institute the same kind of blind dogmatism and legalism that Jesus stood so forcefully against, can not be allowed to take hold. If someone in need comes into their operating room, someone the preacher and the politician on their cable news show told them is “untouchable,” and they go looking for a verse of Scripture for guidance, I hope the only one they find is Matthew 15:30:

“Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others, and laid them at his feet,

and he healed them all.”

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“Let Obamacare Fail” Is Immoral

Health care has been at the center of the news recently. President Trump and Congressional Republicans are determined to do….something, mainly centered around repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as it’s known.

These guys have your future in their hands. Yikes.

Yet, they keep failing to do so, lacking the necessary votes to get it done in Congress. So, after last week’s debacle, Trump decided he had enough, declaring that he would just “let Obamacare fail” and that he wasn’t going to own it.

The concept of “letting Obamacare fail” is highly immoral. It strikes against the oath at the very heart of the medical field, which states “First, do no harm.”

Obamacare has real problems with the way it is built and the way it has worked in the real world. But these problems are all fixable. The mandate needs to have better enforcement. Subsidies could be more generous. CSR (cost-sharing reduction) payments to insurers need to be assured and generous as well. Medicaid expansion needs to take hold in all fifty states.

The three-legged stool of Obamacare – universal coverage, subsidies, and the individual mandate – is a proven model. It’s not perfect; we would be better off with Medicare-for-all, with the eventual goal of single payer. But Obamacare, when it is funded and not sabotaged, works. No one can deny it: more people are insured under Obamacare than were before, and that is a unqualified good. No matter what your opinions on health policy, no one can deny that more people (24 million more people, to be exact) having access to affordable, decent health coverage is a good thing for this country, politically and morally.

That’s what makes the attitude of Trump, and the all-out drive of the Republican Party to repeal Obamacare no matter what, so morally problematic. The talking points about rising subsidies and infringements on liberty and massive tax hikes and death panels are wrong and disingenuous. Subsidies are rising no more than they were before Obamacare. Taxes were raised modestly on a few of the richest Americans. Death panels are just a stupid lie perpetuated by national joke Sarah Palin. And the only liberty Obamacare repeal promotes is the liberty of millions of Americans to die without health care access.

As much as they want to talk about Obamacare failing, the facts are just not with them. It’s not failing; the only way it fails is if they continue to undermine it (i.e. by refusing to pay CSRs, or to enforce the mandate.) And in their drive to undermine and repeal it, they are ensuring that those 24 million Americans who got health insurance will now lose it, and put their lives at risk in the process. All so they can cut the very modest taxes Obamacare imposed on the rich.

In essence, the GOP policy outcome is that millions will lose their health insurance so that a handful of the richest people in America can pocket more money. This is highly immoral, and terribly un-Christian. The GOP is choosing mammon over human beings. It’s callous, and history will judge them harshly.

There are those who will accuse me of being partisan, who will try to posit a moral equivalence between both political parties in this health care debate. That argument is wrong. The Democratic Party is far, far from perfect. I have my gripes with it, trust me. But, in the case of health care, there is only one party trying to take health care away from millions of working families, and it ain’t the Democrats*.

Health care is a basic human right. The fact that America is still the only major industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee coverage for all it’s citizens puts us as a moral disadvantage on the world stage. Obamacare was a small step in correcting that shortcoming. The fact that a sizable portion of Americans thinks that providing health care to everyone – something the richest country in the history of the world can easily do, if we have the will – is wrong and undesirable is a sad commentary on the state of the American soul.

Here’s hoping Trump and the GOP fails, and we continue on the path towards a better future.

*And don’t try to talk to me about abortion. I have a really hard time believing you are “pro-life” if you support and vote for a party that wants to take away life saving health care for millions of people, including millions of children. You can’t be pro-life if you care more about future hypothetical fetuses than you do human beings alive right now.