Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of the health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the first of three days of arguments, I stood with other faith-based advocates in front of the court as a public witness of our support for the law.
The ACA is not perfect. But for now the choice before us is between this imperfect law and 50 million people continuing to go without health care. My sister is one of those people. Right now, she has a chance of getting access to health insurance in 2014 when the bulk of the law goes into effect. If the Supreme Court overturns portions or all of the ACA, however, she will continue to go without.
And what does going without health insurance mean? It means that people go without needed health care services and medicines. It means that families go bankrupt after an accident or illness. It means that when someone with rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia loses their job, they also lose access to the care they need to manage their condition.
Tammy Alexander attends an interfaith prayer vigil in front of the Supreme Court. (MCC Photo/Jesse Epp-Fransen)
It is no coincidence that Jesus’ ministry here on Earth was a healing ministry. Jesus recognized that broken bodies keep people from living full lives and he worked to heal our brokenness, inside and out. And when Jesus spoke about caring for the sick and the vulnerable, he didn’t mean just those who could afford health insurance.
In 2007, Mennonite Church USA adopted a set of principles on health care reform which called for, among other things: eliminating financial and health status barriers to health care access; strengthening public health systems such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program; and a greater sharing of risks, costs, and responsibility by all. Representatives from the Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office, as well as representatives from several other Anabaptist agencies involved in health care, worked together on the development of these principles.
It is not right to ration health care based on income. No child should have to suffer, no family should have to lose their home, no one should be deprived of their dignity or their life because of our failure as a society to restructure our health care system to be more fair and just.
The MCC Washington Office will continue to support policy changes which uphold these important principles. And I will continue to stand up for my sister and others who are unable to get the care they need.
Visit our website for resources on the Supreme Court case and other information about health care reform.
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