By Roy H. Schaefer
Peace and Justice Ministries
Community of Christ
More than 60 years ago, President Harry Truman addressed Congress and said, “Millions of our citizens do not have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health care. Millions do not have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. The time has arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and that protection.”
In our nation’s history at least four other presidents felt similarly about this issue and that something needed to be done to make health care accessible, affordable, and for all.
Our Declaration of Independence provides a basis for all citizens when it says “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is also interesting to note that in Missouri we have a state motto – “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law” – that clearly signifies that the goal is to have no separation between age, sex, race and financial differences between citizens regarding health care.
While I wish the Congress would have considered a single-payer health plan, that unfortunately is not under consideration.
Recently, a carefully provided scientific study by Harvard University shared some very helpful insights into health care in the United States. Among the findings:
We’re losing more Americans every day because of inaction (related to health care) than drunken driving and homicide combined.
There are fewer and fewer places for the uninsured to get good health care.
American adults ages 64 and younger, who lack health insurance, have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have coverage.
An increasing number of other studies indicate that in America: We have an outrageously expensive health system in which costs have doubled and/or tripled beyond any other country in the world.
The system we have doesn’t work well for preventing and treating chronic disease that help cause our costs to skyrocket.
More than one million Americans will go bankrupt this year because of medically-related debt.
While many factors affect the health care of a person or family, it seems to me we could address responsibly the following: End gender discrimination; guarantee insurance renewal; end dropping coverage for the seriously ill or discrimination for preexisting conditions; and cost share for preventative care.
The United States has taken great pride in being concerned for every one of its citizens. Now is the time for Congress to deal openly and succinctly with the factors that will help develop a health-reform plan that we can build upon.
It would be a serious tragedy if Congress did not support the key components they are aware of and which will help us to have much more accessible and affordable health care for everyone. It can be done this year, and I sincerely believe it will be done.