Friday, June 29, 2012

The UMC Speaks on Health Care

I have to admit I was quite surprised yesterday when I saw that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (what some call "Obamacare") in its entirety. During my lifetime, many of the landmark decisions handed down by our nation's highest court have appeared extremely partisan, with justices voting the position of the political party of the President who appointed them.

I don't really want to engage in the wars of words that are currently going on surrounding the decision. I'm not a legal scholar nor an expert in health policy, so were I to engage in the arguments for the side I find myself on, the best I could do would be to give slightly more thoughtful versions of the sound-bytes being thrown around, but I wouldn't have much of substance to contribute to the discussion.

Instead, I'd simply like to share the official stance of my church on the right to health care. This comes from paragraph 162 of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, where the social principles of our denomination are detailed.

Health is a condition of physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being, and we view it as a responsibility—public and private. Health care is a basic human right. Psalm 146 speaks of the God “who executes justice for the oppressed;/ who gives food to the hungry./ The LORD sets the prisoners free;/ the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.” The right to health care includes care for persons with brain diseases, neurological conditions or physical disabilities, who must be afforded the same access to health care as all other persons in our communities. It is unjust to construct or perpetuate barriers to physical or mental wholeness or full participation in community. We encourage individuals to pursue a healthy lifestyle and affirm the importance of preventive health care, health education, environmental and occupational safety, good nutrition, and secure affordable housing in achieving health. We also recognize the role of governments in ensuring that each individual has access to those elements necessary to good health. Countries facing a public health crisis such as HIV/AIDS must have access to generic medicines and to patented medicines without infringing on a pharmaceutical company's patent/licensing rights. We affirm the right of men and women to have access to comprehensive reproductive health/family planning information and services which will serve as a means to prevent unplanned pregnancies, reduce abortions and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
(emphasis mine)

You don't have to agree with the social principles to be part of the United Methodist Church, so if you happen to disagree with our official stance or the opinion of your preacher, don't leave your church. I have some strong disagreements with other parts of our discipline, but I'm not surrendering my credentials over them.

Agree? Great. Disagree? Great. Let's take some time to talk about why. Let's put away the sound-bytes for a few minutes and try to see the good in those with whom we disagree. We just might learn something, and we might even be transformed, ourselves, regardless of whether we end up agreeing.


Dan McNeeley said...

Good thoughtful post as usual. The biggest issue is that it is so hard to get true, honest information because of the sound-bites. Reading it would do me no good since it is mostly legalese. There was some good information in today's Tennessean. I agree the health care crisis needs fixing. My problem is that health care is too expensive. Period. I don't think this bill directly addresses this. The story is that health care will go down because of less defaults on services. We'll see.

Anna Lee Everhart said...

Hi Matt! I saw your post on Jill's FB page, and it is great to "see" you! It was very interesting to read UMC's official position, so thank you for sharing that. A lot of my conservative circle of course, find Obamacare unconstitutional, yet I find a lot of them, (where they might believe helping the poor is the church's job- not the governments), spend too much of their time fighting, and too little time encouraging church members to live out our command to tithe SO THAT we can be free from federal "overstep". If only people spent less time being overly offended by an oposing view and bashing one another, and more time coralling for their own views, this contries social climate would probably improve.