Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Great Debate

To be clear, I do not and will not support health care reform that includes funding for abortion. But with that said, if this current bill is defeated, something MUST be done about the thousands of people who cannot afford health insurance. To my mind and to my conscience, I do not see how it is pro-life to consider adequate health care a privilege and not a right. Some opponents of the bill have flippantly suggested that the uninsured seek care in emergency rooms, which are already badly overcrowded and understaffed. Is this compassion?

What about children born with birth defects who grow to be adults and then can't get coverage because of pre-existing condition clauses. You know, if the insurance companies were losing money, I could perhaps understand why they'd need to be prudent about covering everyone and anyone but the fact is that they are raking in record profits. I find this obscene.

So dear Catholics, if this bill is defeated and our bishops have urged us to voice our opposition so long as abortion can be funded, will we get another bill that we can live with, or will health care reform go back on the dust heap for another decade or so?

My first job after I became a nurse was in a medical/respiratory ICU that is renowned throughout the city for caring for some of the most critically ill patients.
Often times, I was required to care for prisoners who had become sick in prison and could only be cared for in an ICU like ours. With armed guards posted outside their rooms, we would provide the same care to them as we did any other patient. Many were intubated and on ventilators. When you have a sick and suffering human being in front of you, there is no time or place for making judgments. If prisoners, some of whom murdered people, could get compassionate care, shouldn't everyone? Homeless people were also among our clientele. Should we have allowed a man to suffocate to death because he didn't have insurance or even a job? Is this our idea of protecting life from the moment of conception until natural death?

I have not read the bill, and I trust that if the bishops have voiced concerns, that it should suffice. But the issue is too important to simply let die. Here are some simple reforms that can happen right now that everyone should be able to agree upon:

1. Get rid of the pre-existing condition clause
2. No caps on coverage (which is in and of itself a "death panel")
3. Allow competition between insurers across state lines to bring down costs
4. Demand that doctors police themselves along with tort reform measures so that malpractice is approached from both angles.

None of this should cost the taxpayers a dime. Abortion will not be an issue, and meaningful measures to address spiraling costs and limited access will be something nearly everyone with a conscience can agree on.

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