“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.



On Hobby Lobby and the Ongoing War on Women

I have a lot of thoughts about the Hobby Lobby ruling yesterday, most of them centered on the ridiculously wrong medical science behind the Green family’s case and the absolutely insane idea that my employer has any right to say what I do with my earned benefits once it leaves their bank account. Not to mention the heartbreak I feel for the 14% of women in this country who use birth control and IUDs for purposes other than contraception, mostly life-threatening medical conditions, who now have to hope and pray ¬†that their right to a healthy and long life doesn’t violate their employer’s “religious liberty.” It’s disgusting.

Hobby Lobby in Ashland, KY from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Nicholas Eckhart, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

But, I want to focus on another issue that has gained more relevance for me since this ruling yesterday morning. Let me explain it this way: when I go to a job interview, that interviewer is generally only evaluating my previous work experience, my strengths and weaknesses, and my background. My race or gender isn’t even thought of in any way. When I go to the doctor, no one questions the decisions I make with my doctor in any way. When I make a decision to work long hours despite having two kids, no one considers me a bad or deficient parent, or worries about my kids being abandoned.

The point is, as a white man in America, my identity never plays a role in the decisions and privileges I get in life. I never have to worry about any other consideration. I’m very lucky in that way.

And I’m also in a vast minority. Because, as a white Christian male, I am the only demographic in America that doesn’t deal with inherent systematic bias in life. The Hobby Lobby decision is just another point of evidence in that contention.

When I purchase health insurance through an employer, I never have to wonder if everything I select will be paid for. I can get any medical service I deem necessary. If I want a vasectomy (eliminating my own ability to reproduce) I know my employer will pay for it via my insurance, no harm no foul. When I go down to my local M.D. to get the procedure done, I will not have protesters standing in front of me crying for all the little unborn babies never getting a chance at life because of my choice.

Women don’t get that kind of freedom. Their health choices are always open for questioning and criticism. Their ability to make reproductive choices is the most hotly contested political issue of the last half-century. And now, they have to wonder if the health care they thought they were signing up for access to will still be there when they need it.

Not to mention, their ability to land jobs is tied to whether or not they are pregnant, are likely to become pregnant, or have children at home. Their ability to do a job is questioned by those who wonder if they are “tough enough” or “have thick enough skin” to “Run with the big boys.” Their mothering skills are questioned if they have the gall to pursue higher education or spend a few more minutes at the office.

And I have even mentioned that the career I have chosen, that of ministry, isn’t even open to a huge number of women in this country? Whereas I can become a minster in any denomination that I feel I belong to, women have to limit that choice. I heard a young women recently tell a story, with tears in her eyes, about how she was just a little child when she heard her newly-ordained brother preach in the local Southern Baptist church. At that moment, she felt a calling on her life, a passion to follow her brother and become a representative of the church in this world. And instead of open arms and pride, her family rejected her calling and told her she was wrong and sinful for feeling a calling from God, because she is a woman. Thank God she has found a new home in the UMC where she is welcome to follow her calling.

As Christians, we shoulder a large load of blame in the oppression and degradation of women. For too long, we told women they were too dirty and broken to be a representative of God to others, among other pursuits and dreams. Even if many of our churches have opened their pulpits to women, many others, including the two largest Christian denominations in the United States, still refuse to do so, for no other good reason than they are women, and the old men running these churches are scared too death of a woman having any authority against them in any way.

There is only one way to live a Christians, and this is with radical love, acceptance, and equality. Yesterday’s ruling, and more importantly the attitude it engenders and perpetuates toward women, is anything but Christian in nature.

The war on women in America is alive and well. Anyone who thinks otherwise is blind to the world around them.