Medicaid Mess

By Kristen Johnson
Twitter: @tugoffaith

Socialized medicine – that concept demonized in the U.S. by the right and praised by many on the left – comes with decades of arguing behind us and likely decades of arguing in front of us. Why is it that the U.S. can’t seem to follow countries like Norway, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom and provide universal healthcare for its citizens? We can’t even get an insurance mandate (like Obamacare) passed in this country without year after year of fights in Congress to repeal it.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is an attempt to provide affordable  healthcare in the U.S. It gives Americans more access to healthcare options, it ends discrimination over things like age and pre-existing conditions, and it includes an expansion of Medicaid for the poor and disabled, among other things.

Huffington Post recently posted an article about a Census Bureau report detailing the Medicaid expansion, or lack of expansion, as is the case in many states. Why states would refuse funds from the federal government to help take care of their citizens completely baffles the mind. Having observed the years of arguing on the subject, we can surmise that the Governors of the states refusing the expansion (almost entirely Republican controlled governors or legislatures) are fighting the expansion because it raises federal taxes. (States have to pay for healthcare for the poor and disabled anyway, so the argument is clearly political.) Luckily, the Census bureau reports that some holdout governors are coming around and participating in the program after all. However, several states like Florida, Georgia, and Texas are consistently refusing to participate in the expansion.

It’s bizarre that politics can play into the mix when healthcare is involved. Isn’t access to healthcare a right afforded to all citizens of the US, or any country? Shouldn’t we care about the health and well-being of everyone? Why do the people in power believe that some people (the poor, the working poor, and a whole lot of people in the middle) don’t “deserve” healthcare, or access to “better” healthcare? It smacks of discrimination and classism.

It’s completely egregious that the U.S. doesn’t have a single-payer healthcare system for all. But, at the very least, providing access to healthcare at all through Obamacare is a decent start to solving the problem. Shame on politicians who wish to segregate healthcare into the “haves” and the “have-nots.” The Bible preaches endlessly about taking care of the poor (and everyone else too) because we are supposed to always take care of our “neighbor.” Republicans (and anyone else against expanding healthcare services) need to take a look at their Bibles.

Psalm 82: 3-4 (NRSV): Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

1 John 3:17 (NRSV): 17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister[a] in need and yet refuses help?

Romans 15:2 (NRSV): Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.

The time has come for single-payer healthcare in the U.S. It’s time to expand Obamacare. Stop the insanity.

Serve all with love.

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