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The national health care summit

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(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Yesterday’s nationally televised health care summit left some significant matters unspoken. It seems appropriate to mention some of these matters as a part of the public debate on health care.

First, a person who is a Christian will want to recall that one of the basic truths about all of humanity is that humanity is precious in the sight of God. As such humans are given the responsibility to make sure that the weak and the infirm are cared for to the best of our ability.

Second, a person who comes to the health care debate from the position of a Judeao-Christian moral individual realizes that health care is poorly thought through if it is pursued only from a business model. A business model would quickly cut one’s losses and get on to a more profitable endeavor which would eliminate the sick from any consideration unless they can readily pay. At that point, one does well to keep the sick person sick in order to more greatly profit from the accumulated wealth of the sick individual.

Third, a person who is a Christian can perceive that this life is not all there is. Based on the understanding of life eternal, the Christian will carefully examine the necessity of “doing all we can for Grandma” because life on this earth will end for all of us. As was once heard quoted, “Life is a terminal condition which begins at birth.” To hear the leaders of our nation speaking at the summit, one would think that none of them believes they will perish at some point.

Fourth, health care has, for thousands of years, been intimately tied to faith. See Mending Bodies, Saving Souls by Geunter Risse.  In his book Risse examines the role that faith has played in the healing arts for thousands of years. Today in the US, we are seeing much more of a drive toward secularized healing. That is in spite of mounting evidence that spirituality and prayer have a significant influence on the healing process. “One of the early indications of the general acknowledgement of the relevance of spirituality was a paper on prayer (Byrd et al. 1988), which showed that patients in a coronary care unit who were prayed for had shorter in-patient stays, fewer complications and a reduced drug usage.” See Peter Fenwick’s article “Scientific Evidence for the Efficacy of Prayer.” One would never imagine that such is the scientific evidence if one were to simply listen to the folks at the Health Care Summit.

Fifth, Evangelical Christians need to raise their voices with clarity about matters that seem to be carefully avoided in the public square. The health care summit did reflect the premise of Rich John Neuhaus’ book, The Naked Public Square as the participants managed to ignore the role of faith and the convictions of people of faith that have for so many years provided the basis for providing health care to all who are ill regardless of ability to pay. It could be that the place of faith would be to provide the bridge both parties were looking for in yesterday’s interchange. Let’s hope they will turn to faith as a way to bring healing to the health care system in our land.
 

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