Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | September 27, 2017

The humility of healthcare

This week the Republican leadership of the US Senate has decided not to vote on a possible new healthcare act. I know it’s a temporary delay, but for now, it’s a good step.

The still active Affordable Care Act certainly has its issues and problems. Not least among those are that the current government is reducing funding, not holding insurance companies accountable, not planning to continue to support Medicaid expansion (indeed, many want a shrinkage of Medicaid).

Yes, there were problems before this administration and, yes, Democrats should’ve worked with Republicans to craft the ACA, just as they now want Republicans to work with them. A bipartisan bill will be a better bill than either party can create on its own, and I hope we’re headed down that path.

Here’s what I find most disturbing about the whole thing: all the Christians who are unconcerned about poor people, sick people, and especially poor people who have the bad luck to be sick. Last week I heard James Comer (a Republican member of the House of Representatives, from my state of Kentucky) say on national TV, “People that deserve to be on Medicaid will continue to be on Medicaid.” I don’t even know what that means. Does it mean that only some desperately poor persons are the “deserving poor,” a demeaning designation I haven’t heard in years? (Oh, and who decides how to separate people into the groupings of deserving and undeserving?) Does it mean that those who are writing the house and senate bills plan to pare down the Medicaid rolls so deeply that only a few will be left in a system designed to fail?

The bill that is currently under consideration may, or may not, be good financially for some. But there’s no indication at all, despite protestations (by those same “some”), that it would be good for the most vulnerable: those with pre-existing conditions, elders, children. (Did you know that 20% of all children in the US live in poverty? See statistics about childhood poverty here. Surely nothing perpetuates poverty as deeply as when children begin life without the basic things they need, including adequate healthcare.)

Admittedly, healthcare laws and reform are complicated. There is no easy fix. But we’ve elected people to do the hard work of fixing it, not to remove from people the essential help it provides.

Just where am I going with this in a lectionary blog?

Here’s where. Bills that increase suffering, especially of the most humble, aren’t very humble laws themselves, nor are they designed with humility. Jesus people shouldn’t be supporting laws that aren’t Jesus-y. I’m closing with part of this week’s text from Philippians.

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 
who, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited, 
but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, 
   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross. [from Philippians 2]IMG_7248, LR adjusted, copyright, low

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

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