Another perspective on Obama’s reforming of Health Care

Just wanted to share this article I read about Obama’s  failure to follow through on his original promises for Health Care that he got elected for.  And it leaves me thinking, when it comes to Health Care, are we our brothers keeper?  I have health care coverage, but should I fight to make sure that everyone has access to fair and quality coverage? We pursue right relationship with our creator, but are we also called to pursue right relationship with God’s creation as well?

Freestyle with me, how has your awareness of God impacted your views on access to health care for the poor and marginalized?

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

11 thoughts on “Another perspective on Obama’s reforming of Health Care

  1. I have to say that I am disappointed in Obama’s villification (is that even a word??) of the insurance industry. I am living in a state where we have already implemented all of the “rules” for insurance companies…coverage for all, can’t turn anyone away, etc. I’m not sure how his passing of legislation like this is “reform”. Besides, how does this lower costs. I know that by making insurance accessible to everyone in the state, the health care costs did not go down. They were just spread out over the small group population and insurance companies. That means it hurts small businesses who then have to pass the cost onto their employees who work hard.
    Instead, maybe Obama should take a look at overuse and misuse in the health care system. The Mayo clinic might be a good model to take a look at.
    Maybe with a change like this, we could be our brother’s keeper and provide quality care for all. Perhaps I’m just an optimist.

    1. The reason the insurance industry is vilified is because it behaves like a villain. The health care industry has been in a position of absolute power for so long and now there is some accountability on the way. The point of health care reform is to help a broad segment of the American population that is left out of the advantages afforded the other half of our society. In this health care debate the small business is considered but one must also hold up the cause of those who don’t have health care insurance and are struggling to pay bills and stay in their homes. One of the issues addressed in the bill is the misuse and overuse of the health care system. How can health care insurance cost go down if state – universal health care is implemented in just one state? The other states would bear the brunt…

  2. You say, “I have health care coverage, but should I fight to make sure that everyone has access to fair and quality coverage?”

    Who do you mean by “everyone”? Is that only in America? And if so, why would you want to shut out the rest of God’s children?

    The article says, “And the embargo of single payer media coverage continues, despite its being the majority sentiment of Americans.”

    Where is the proof of this? I have not seen a single poll that states this – I only find the opposite in polling data.

    The article says, “Barack Obama has again and again doubled down on that set of promises, declaring that his first term should be judged on whether he manages to deliver comprehensive, affordable health care to everybody, including the nation’s fifty million uninsured.”

    “the nation’s fifty million uninsured” is a leading statement. Obama uses it but he doesn’t tell you that it includes such people as: The wealthy who self insure, the young who prefer not to have health insurance, illegal aliens and many others that make the real number much lower The actual number of legal citizens who would like to be but are not covered by health insurance is less than half of Obama’s number.

    The article says, “President Obama has admitted many times in recent months that Medicare For All, also called single payer, is the only way, and the least expensive way to cover the uninsured while at the same time bringing costs down.”

    The truth is – Medicare and Medicaid are broke. When Medicare was first started back in 1964 the Government projected that it would cost the taxpayers roughly 960 million dollars in 30 years. Well, in 1994 (30 years later) it actually cost us just short of one trillion dollars. They underestimated by 9 times. Compare this to the Post Office… “The USPS lost $2.4 billion in the quarter ended in June and projects a net loss of $7 billion in fiscal 2009, outstanding debt of more than $10 billion and a cash shortfall of $1 billion. It was moved to intensive care — the Government Accountability Office’s list of “high risk” cases – – last month and told to shape up.” (Bloomberg Report) Or Social Security which is expected to be insolvent in a few years . . .
    What Government entity runs at or within budget? – never mind below budget.
    So, who is fooled when the words “bring costs down” are used?

    I truly question whether this is even about health care, because if it was – why aren’t the President and Congress doing what needs to be done to stimulate the businesses of America so that the10% unemployed could get back to work and benefits? If this was really about health care for the uninsured – why aren’t they dealing with a simpler solution for just those who are actually uninsured and want to be instead of trying to hamstring all of us into a government run (DMV style) health care fiasco?

    1. Who do you doesn’t want health care coverage? I hear what you are saying about Medicare and Social Security being broke but I wonder if you realize that most Americans are also broke even before universal health care coverage has passed-many are broke because they are paying health care bills. The real problem with your reasoning is that you don’t see that health care as it is today is a fiasco – cost have gone through the roof and there is no check and balance. Also, you mention the businesses of America – well before you place your faith in business look at where the business world has left this country these past couple of years. Placing the solution in the hands of large or small businesses is not the solution. They are not the pure-honest brokers that many conservatives make them out to be and I would also say that they Fed is not a pure honest broker but at least they can be voted in and out of office and are bound at least in principle to represent the people that elected them.

      By the way getting home in order is a priority and helping others abroad is important but the argument is about the broken American health system and the means that we have to address this problem in these hear United States.

      1. Can,
        Your naivety and ignorance about which you speak leave me with little to argue. I believe your heart is true and I hear you when you say that there is greed and corruption – but I am not about to throw out the entire system just to install a totalitarian governmental system the likes of which you seem to submit to – at least not one governed and run by men – be it private or government. I look forward to the totalitarian government of God – but of men…. no way.
        There are some simple fixes that would make our entire system work a lot better and cheaper but the folks in congress like to be wined and dined by the lobbiests – so things like the following are hard to make happen even though they would make a huge difference:
        – Tax deductibility for individuals and not just businesses for the costs of health insurance. An individual trying to buy health insurance on their own has it harder than they should because of this.
        – Allowing us to buy health insurance from any company in the United States and not just the few in our own state would go a long way in bringing down prices due to the increased compitition. Obama talks about the government haveing to get involved because the insurance companies need compitition – that’s crap. Open up the borders between states and watch the compition happen between the over 1,000 existing insurance companies!!!
        – Adressing tort reform. It was just done in Texas – many doctors are finially moving back there because they no longer have to pay extravagant liabillity insurance premiums to practice. And they know that if they are sued, there will be a level of reasonableness in the settelments.
        You brush off the business world because of those who are currupt, but you have nary a thing to say about the comforts at affordable prices it has provided you… you’re surrounded by the greatest comfort level (due to the inovation of business and it’s people) found anywhere in the world and all you can say is that some are currupt? But you must know somewhere better…
        Educate me.

  3. Drew,
    The way we live in America is all out of whack. A handful of very wealthy people calling the shots, which benefit only them? Maybe the reason we can’t solve problems like health care for everyone–which is not even a legitimate question, of COURSE everyone should have affordable access to health care–is because there is no solution in all the negativity and self-centeredness. The solution is found in Love, not in profits or competition or opinions. It’s going to take a God-centered visionary to see the solutions, and people like Jesus and MLK seem to keep getting killed. I remain hopeful, though, that Love will conquer the darkness. Thanks for asking such thought-provoking questions.
    Pam B

    1. Pam,
      If I were simply to answer the question posed by Dru –

      “…how has your awareness of God impacted your views on access to health care for the poor and marginalized?”

      I could answer it no better than you just did.

      Any issue or problem or situation – for the Christian – must be seen through His eyes and addressed by the question “WWJD?”. Yes, God has an answer and it is the best answer and it is guided by love.
      We live on earth.
      Fallen Earth
      Sin Filled Earth
      His answers don’t get implemented “in full” here.
      I, like you, wish it were different.
      We seek to win the hearts and minds of our fellow travelers… but some, nay – many, will not hear it and they will do as they wish and many will suffer because of it.
      Whether the system stays the way it is in health care or we go the other way entirely to a single payer plan with the government as the sole source of health care – suffering and abuse and corruption and death will not stop nor will it even become less. What will happen if we go with the single payer option will simply be that the standard of living for all will decline and the discrepancy in care will shift to a different set of peoples – the old, the very ill, and the unborn. Suffering will continue and abuse of people will continue – for the sake of the chosen few – the young and productive.
      I find the “Flood” a very interesting moment in the history of the world. Even more interesting in some ways than the Crucifixion. The flood tells me that even God got tired of trying to get fallen man to live righteously or even to try to be “better”. It’s a telling glimpse into the psyche of God when confronted by man’s unending and growing propensity for evil. “Kill em all!!!”
      There is pain and suffering in this world and we make dents in it. Period. That’s it.
      God for His part made a way out – but didn’t outright institute Heaven on earth. No, He left it in it’s fallen state, just as bad as when he sent the flood. We are fools who think we will institute Utopia here before the second coming. Dents we will make. On that I agree – but no one will be completely satisfied no matter how or where those dents are made because none of them are complete and simply can’t be on this fallen earth.
      That’s why the greatest tip ever given to us was when Paul said, “I have learned to be content.” Fight for what’s good and noble – but because you will always fall short – start out by being “content” in your heart to begin with.

  4. DR, as far as the article goes… I was not personally advocating for a single payer approach, but sharing a perspective that I don’t hear on the news. Although, anything including a single payer approach would be better than what we have now.

    Can, thank you for your thoughts, I think that when we keep our focus on those who are most vulnerable, it will shape our discussion drastically.

    And Pam B, thanks for jumping in, you really hit right on where I was going with this post, emphasizing the “God-centered” focus needed that promotes love over greed and selfishness.

  5. Hi DR,
    The state of the world weighs heavy on us all–but I love a saying of (I think) a Catholic saint: “We are God’s hands and we are God’s feet.” Though it sometimes doesn’t seem like it, what we think and do does make a difference. We are united in Loving thoughts and prayers, which I feel are gathering in a web of light around the planet. It’s got to have some effect! Take care,
    Pam B

  6. OK Dru,
    Here it is – it’s been passed and about to be signed. Are you still holding that it’s going to be better than what we already have?
    Before you answer – I should warn you I’m looking to come down hard on anyone who calls themselves Christian and says that this bill is anything but demonically inspired because of the abortion policies and funding contained therein. I’m looking to come down hard on anyone who will ever vote for the party of death (Democrat) again. You saw the so-called “Pro-life” Dem’s fold and vote for this sinful strike against the unborn that demands that all of us pay for it. I may very well have to go to jail for my convictions in this regard.

  7. Hi DR,
    I saw on the news that federal funding for abortions was removed from the bill before it was passed. So that’s very good news. I also believe that no matter what arguments are made against health care for every American, that we are moving in a more compassionate direction that will lift the quality of life for many others. Perhaps answers will be found for other quality of life measures, such as receiving a quality education.
    Take care.

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