Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Universal Health Care Debate

From a Catholic point of view, what is the best way to approach universal health care? I expect there will be several Catholic points of view. Let's hear them.

28 comments:

Katie Beaumont said...

As Catholics, we are to be our brother and sister's keepers. We need to stand up for TRUTH and social justice. The last time I checked, the Catholic Church does not endorse ANY political party. The Catholic Church takes positions based on it's teachings on Faith and Morality. And as disappointing as it may be to some political philosophies, we as Catholics, are OBLIGED to love one another as Christ loved us. THAT INCLUDES IMMIGRANTS, legal or not. PLEASE KEEP THIS DISCUSSION ON A CATHOLIC LEVEL. NOT A POLITICAL LEVEL. That means, what does the USCCB tell us regarding healthcare? I don't care what Rush Limbaugh thinks. I only care about the families who cannot afford to receive humane healthcare.

Stu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stu said...

Miss Beaumont,

You seem very concerned about things being on a "political level" but you are, for the most part, that keeps bringing political issues into this discussion. I would urge you to stop doing it. Such would go a long way into ridding the conversation of that which you are puportedly against.

As to nationalizing healthcare and creating a system by which the Federal Government controls this service, I am firmly against it on the grounds that it will lead to increased deficit spending (which it truly an injustice to our own children), will lead to our personal freedoms being trampled upon by the state, robs the individual man of his duty and opportunity to be charitable to his fellow man, will lead to the destruction of Catholic healthcare (which is our best hope) and ultimately goes against the Catholic principle of subsidiarity whereby we should strive to handle all matters are the appropriate level of control vice the current trend of trying to get the Federal Government to do everything. I point out that none of my objections are politically motivated nor am I against anyone not receiving healthcare (to include illegal immigrants). I am against the Federal Government being the default the solution to this challenge no matter what party is in charge. It's simply a bad idea that will make the current challenges worse.

As a member of the military, I again got to witness the end of fiscal year spending spree where we work to get all remaining money off the books before 01 October lest we risk receivng less money the following year. The system encourages waste and many on the left side of the political spectrum like to highlight the military when speaking of this systemic abuse. But why do we believe that the non-military sector is any different? The folks that run our books are civilian government workers just like the ones who run the books for Health and Human Services. Does anyone really think it is smart to put the Federal Government, the same government that brought us the current mortgage meltdown, has raided Social Security, mismanaged Medicare and Medicaid and also wastes DOD money in charge of all of healthcare? Not me. I think the notion is nothing but pure folly. And that has nothing to do with theology but just common sense. And I have no desire to sign my children up to pay that bill. To me, it's a matter of social justice. (Continued below…)

Stu said...

(Continued from above…)
The other aspect that being in the military brings to my mind, is the amount of personal freedom we would eventually lose. I'm not saying that there is some plot to control us but rather it is only natural that if the Government is paying the bills, that they begin to have a say on how we live our lives. The military provides me with my healthcare and I can assure you that it comes with mandates on how I conduct myself off duty as well as what vaccines I HAVE to receive. It's and example of the Golden Rule of the Government; the man with the gold makes the rules. (And BTW, anyone else realize that the health insurance industry is for the plan of nationalized healthcare? Wonder why? Know who provides my healthcare for the government? It's contracted out. The insurance companies win either way and in fact I would submit they will make out better with the Government as the sole provider. No need for competition. The major insurance companies will all be given their piece of the pie and simply increase profits by cutting corners on the patients.)

God certainly calls for us to care for our fellow man but does that mean, get the Federal Government to do it? I don't believe so. It becomes far too easy for people to simply remark "that's the government's job" when it comes to issues like this. Afterall, we pay them taxes don't we? Isn't that our charity? I say emphatically "no" and this is why I believe that using the Federal Government for charity, though well intentioned, is immoral because it robs us of our opportunity to love our fellow man. And ironically, by having the Federal Government call all of the shots with regard to healthcare we run the risk of having our Catholic Hospitals, the absolute only places where everyone is seen regardless of cost, shut down given the mandates for immoral services (abortion/infanticide, contraception, etc) that the government would certainly mandate over time.

The Catholic pirinciple of subsidiarity (as discussed by many Popes) says that such services all of have a proper level of execution and should always be attempted at the lowest level first. I don't believe we have tried that and instead are marching down the road of the heresy of socialism (especially given the recent government involvement in banking, insurance and automobile industry). Because Capitalism is a flawed system, doesn't mean we run towards socialism for the cure. And the irony of the that approach is that at the end of the day, the faces "getting rich" will be the same. Ever wonder by the Wall Street types support the President no matter what party he belong to?

I urge you all to pick up some books by Chesterton, Belloc or Father McNabb on the concept of Distributism (as well as some encyclicals by the Popes). If you are truly interested in Catholic thought on this, do it now.

Katie Beaumont said...

Are you against the healthcare that is provided to members of the military and their family members, members of the Congress and members of the Senate? What about an "illegal" immigrant child who has cancer? I don't think chemotherapy is offered in the emergency room. If we can afford to bailout a bunch wealthy bankers, then why can't we afford to pay for a bone marrow transplant for a 6-year old immigrant that can get treated in his or her own country? What would our Lord say?

Mark said...

The impression I got while watching the town hall meetings of this past summer, is that many of us, especially the elderly, are very afraid of a vast bureaucracy having control over their health care.

It would be a very cheap and uncharitable shot to characterize such feelings as stemming from greed, or even racism. In my opinion, it is very clear that what underlies these feelings is the fear of being treated in a utilitarian way. Just as many of the unborn are already treated that way, now the sick, the disabled, and the elderly, feel that they are next on the list of "unproductive" and "costly" people.

Pope John Paul II warned many times of the dangers of utilitarianism. I think that for us, this is a cultural issue, going beyond the question of who can best provide our health care. I can see both the government, and the private insurance companies, as susceptible to this kind of thinking. For example: motivations such as having a balanced budget, or turning a profit, are not evil in themselves. However, in some cultural or economic situations, they can become excuses to diminish the God given dignity for some persons, and consign them to the ranks of the "unproductive". Also, let's not forget that having power concentrated to such a high degree, only attracts characters who covet it for their own gratification.

In my view, the fear is that being labeled "unproductive" and "costly", will result in partial denial of needed healthcare.

Stu said...

Katie Beaumont said...Are you against the healthcare that is provided to members of the military and their family members, members of the Congress and members of the Senate?
I'm against my healthcare in the military being the standard by which we provide other Americans such care. Do you want to hear about the time it took me six months to get an MRI so that I could treatment for a torn rotator cuff? I have more such stories if you are interested or you can simply look forward to when military-style health care comes your way. As to the Congress, they will never give up their first-rate health for that which is intended for the rest of us. Bank on it.

Katie Beaumont said...What about an "illegal" immigrant child who has cancer? I don't think chemotherapy is offered in the emergency room.I'd rather charity do it and from what I have seen of many Americans, we are often willing to do such.

Katie Beaumont said...If we can afford to bailout a bunch wealthy bankers, then why can't we afford to pay for a bone marrow transplant for a 6-year old immigrant that can get treated in his or her own country? What would our Lord say? False choice. And we shouldn't be bailing out wealthy bankers (ask the current Administration why they feel the need to bail out "Big Business") and further the choice becomes really pointless given we can't afford either especially with the tendency of the Federal Government to mismanage our resources.

You are putting too much faith in the secular government and not enough in the Body of Christ.

Katie Beaumont said...

It's interesting how the same anti-healthcare reform people are quick to hold ACORN to a higher standard than they are our own Church. Because of SOME members of ACORN, they want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Be careful with that standard...the tables can be easily turned on us as well. Some people use that same logic to advocate the idea that the Catholic Church has no credibility on Faith and Morals because of the sex scandal of some bishops and priests. Low-income people need a voice in government and ACORN provides a voice to the voiceless. Healthcare reform should be the top priority of ALL our government officials. It is not fair that a wealthy man gets to live because he can afford healthcare while a poor man doesn't get to live because he doesn't have healthcare. The current system does not work. It is immoral and unacceptable in a nation as wealthy as ours. It's time for the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes to even the playing field by allowing EVERYONE EQUAL access to the same healthcare.

Stu said...

Miss Beaumont,

How about addressing the actual points being made?

Mark said...

Katie:

No one is saying that access to health care should be decided by one's wealth. No one is saying that our health care doesn't need to be improved. There are many areas that need to be looked at, for example, health care portability.

What most of the nation is very skeptical about is the claim that government control of our health care will resolve all problems, and not create new ones. The experience of other nations with government run health care doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Please consider this - rehashing progressive talking points, slogans, and accusations, is not conducive to this discussion. It doesn’t address the actual concerns of the majority of the people. If I want to read these talking points, I can visit the Gamaliel Foundation website:

http://www.gamaliel.org/Issues/IssueWork/HealthCare.htm

Katie Beaumont said...

Apparently I'm the only one on this blog who believes that healthcare should be a basic human right. I believe it goes hand-in-hand with the right to LIFE. Nothing will change my view on this. And I don't base this view on polls. It is my belief based on the Catholic principles of social justice as I understand them. We need to put pressure on politicians (no matter which political party) and demand that healthcare be provided to ALL citizens and residents of the nation no matter how much it costs. Life should not have a price tag placed on it.

Mark said...

Katie:

We all believe that healthcare is a basic human right. But there is a healthy debate on how best to deliver it.

Please tone down your remarks and try to read other posts - I think you'll find that we agree much more than you realize at this moment.

standing maryanna said...

Katie said: "It is my belief based on the Catholic principles of social justice as I understand them. We need to put pressure on politicians (no matter which political party) and demand that healthcare be provided to ALL citizens and residents of the nation no matter how much it costs. Life should not have a price tag placed on it."


Katie, you're not alone. I agree with you; and so do many many others.

I also realize that because of the blog's readership, most of the issues will look like a one-sided debate. It is not one-sided in the real world.

Stu said...

Miss Beaumont,

I challenge you to show where anyone has stated that they believe healthcare is not a basic human right. I challenge you to actually respond to what is being written here instead of going off on tangents with sweeping generalizations that don't even remotely reflect what is being articulated here. I challenge to fair and honest debate. Absent such, I am left to believe that you either aren't interested in such discussion or are simply incapable. The only thing I am waiting for now is senseless repeats of "We are Church."

Mark said...

Standing Maryanna:

It's a gross mischaracterization to allude that Conservative and Traditionalist Catholics don't believe that healthcare is a basic human right. Those who argue that way are using a straw man tactic to avoid discussing the real issue - the apprehension most Americans feel about turning over their healthcare to a bureaucracy - now, or in the future.

I'm very surprised that you wrote:

"I also realize that because of the blog's readership, most of the issues will look like a one-sided debate."

Perhaps you started this post with a set of unfortunate assumptions. May I suggest that on this issue at least, we don't stereotype and label each other. There are plenty of other issues where the Conservative vs the Progressive debate makes more sense. Healthcare is not one of the them.

Katie Beaumont said...

"...the apprehension most Americans feel"???....I thought this was a Catholic social justice discussion; not a political discussion. If we base our faith and action (or inaction in some cases) on a how-most-Americans-feel axiom, then couldn't another person take it a step further and justify evil with that same logic?

standing maryanna said...

My earlier comment that Mark questioned: "I also realize that because of the blog's readership, most of the issues will look like a one-sided debate."


Mark, the majority of people who are posting here are traditional or conservative Catholics, as you well know; thus their view will dominate the discussion. The progressive Catholic view will not be seen very much here until more progressive Catholics find the blog.

Stu said...

Maryanna,

I'm simply "Catholic" following the Faith of my Fathers in their love for Christ for over 2,000 years. No need for a modifier for me.

I also find your earlier statements to be a bit "off." No one has denied that we have a right to have our health need addressed. It is, as Mark said, a strawman. Mark and I are the only ones who have commented that we believe the desire to have the Federal Government take charge of our healthcare to be questionable. I further believe that it would be a gross violation of social justice against our children for the reasons I have outlined already that have been either overlooked or simply ignored with instead responses that insinuate that I am against healthcare.

Mark said...

Katie:

I think it is clear that in this debate most Americans are afraid of utilitarianism becoming institutionalized vis-à-vis their healthcare. The feared utility here being the welfare of the state, and not of the people. The issue is not an imagined opposition to offering affordable healthcare to the uninsured - we all want that.

Pope John Paul II warned many times of the dangers of utilitarianism. He experienced it dealing with the Communists (who habitually thought in terms of the “masses”, not individuals, whom they considered dispensable), and also saw versions of it trying to get a foothold in the West.

Do you agree that this is a valid concern - do you think that the fear of utilitarianism is driving these concerns? After all, utilitarianism is antithetical to the Catholic concept of social justice.

standing maryanna said...

Oh, I'm sorry, Stu... and you too, Mark. I didn't mean to give the impression that I thought you both were against health care. I understand that you are FOR health care, just as I am. We simply come to the answer from different viewpoints under the Catholic umbrella.

That's all...

Mark said...

Thank you for the explanation, Standing Maryanna, we misread each other.

Stu said...

Understand Maryanna. Appreciate the explanation.

Break, break...

Saw a commerical today regarding the need for healthcare reform that reminded me of this discussion. It portrayed a doctor and nurse talking about the hardships they have seen and pleading for healthcare reform. The logical fallacy of the commercial is the implication that whatever Congress passes under teh banner of "reform" will either effectively address the hardships or be free of other unintended negative consequences. That, to me, is part of the problem when debating such things. It's like President Obamas slogan of "Change" when running for President. What exactly does that mean? Well the beauty of such tactics is that words like "change" and "reform" when used in such a general sense can mean anything to anyone and often different things to different people. Further, those who would oppose Obama's candidacy or the healthcare meassures being considered in Congress are simply dismissed as being against "change" (which is ostensibly good) and/or "reform" (which of course is assumed always to be good). Such is either intellectually lazy or dishonest but indicative of the current debate on the healthcare front.

standing maryanna said...

Stu wrote: "......words like "change" and "reform" when used in such a general sense can mean anything to anyone and often different things to different people."

Good point!

Mark said...

I also agree with Stu.

In a broader context, poorly defined ideas like "progress", or "change", function as some of modernism's favorite slogans. They often claim to be "scientifically based", or "historically inevitable", in order to bolster their case, scare away the timid, and thus shut down any further discussion. If that doesn't work, then a case for some kind, usually exaggerated, "injustice", or "looming catastrophe" is manufactured, to inject needless emotionalism and push out rational debate. If that doesn't work either, then those who still dare to question are denounced and stereotyped. And in truly totalitarian regimes, they are eliminated.

Such slogans feed off of our natural desire for a better tomorrow for us and for our neighbors, yet those who carelessly fall for them very often end up with a big case of buyer's remorse.

I think that when our Lord said "by their fruits you shall know them", He may have been warning us. Perhaps this warning was that we may not always have the intellectual capacity to fully know beforehand if something being proposed to us is in fact good. But we certainly have the capacity to recognize the taste of rotten fruit.

Katie Beaumont said...

Mark & Stu,
Can you now give an example of a tactic of the right? Or can you only see the evil tactics of the left? I'll tell you what I don't like about liberals, they use words like "choice" when talking about abortion. Murdering a child is not a choice. I don't like the tactics of the right either. They lie to middle class people by telling that we will have government death panels and other nonsense. That is why I believe it's impportant to have a clear enough head to see through other peoples' political ideologies. I would love to know a specific example of a tactic you find repulsive from the right with regards to healthcare reform? Or can the right do no wrong in your opinion?

Anonymous said...

Although this has nothing to do with this topic,this could become soemthing we all need to ponder:

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/oct/09101606.html

Mark said...

Katie:

In my opinion, questioning the health care overhaul the political left is pushing on us is absolutely necessary. The entire media, not just the right, should ask polite but tough questions on this subject.

You seem to have focused on Sarah Palin’s use of the term “death panels”. I think it’s important to put this phrase in its proper context. Does it mean that a sick person will be reduced to personally pleading for needed care in front of a panel of Health Care Board officials? No.

What it does mean, however, is this: a mechanism may be put in place to compare the costs of needed treatment against, to put it bluntly, the worth of the patient in the eyes of the Health Care Board.

This controversy is currently focused on the calculation called “Quality Adjusted Life Year”, or “QUALY” for short (see link below)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-adjusted_life_year

For example, in Britain, an agency called “National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence” (NICE) uses a QUALY to determine what kind of treatment should be made available based on the patient’s age, personal history, disability status (remember Sara Palin’s son?), and let’s be honest, his or her value to the state (see link below):

http://health.usnews.com/blogs/heart-to-heart/2009/03/18/comparative-effectiveness-is-obama-really-calling-for-rationing.html

I would advise that at this time we focus on the fine details of this plan as it moves thru its legislative process. All of the media, not just the right, needs to study this plan, ask tough questions, and demand answers.

Stu said...

Miss Beaumont,

Again, you seem fixated on making this a left vs right issue with respect to the political spectrum. I am neither a democrat nor a republican (and not a moderate for that matter). I am Catholic.

I simply find the left's desire for federal control of the healthcare system to be not only wrong but damaging to the country, a move towards the heresy of socialism and therefore counter to our faith for reasons I have already outlined. Would be nice if you actually addressed them instead of worrying about if I equally take either politically party to task for their inadequacies.