Enabling good health is a community restoration project. It’s really not about prescription plans, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, or any other cost-benefit analysis. It’s about community. When people are sick or hurt they usually don’t feel like getting out much and, depending on their illness or injury, they sometimes can’t (think contagions). They are hostages to separation, whether confined to their home, sequestered in facilities, or shunned by family and friends. The greatest gift Jesus offered people through the plethora of healing events recorded in scripture is restoration to community. No doubt, people were also relieved from their suffering and that’s no small thing, but greater still is to have the desire and consent to be with people.
The Affordable Care Act has extended health care coverage to millions. It’s not perfect, we all know that, but it’s better than the alternative of no health care coverage. The Affordable Care Act, as well as Medicaid and Medicare, are the bedrocks of health care coverage in this country. With no payment options, people will revert to the days of enduring an illness, forgoing treatment for an injury, and ignoring preventive appointments.
- Matthew 9:20-22: The woman suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years not only felt bad, but purity laws prohibited a “bleeding” woman from touching or being touched by another person — that’s separation.
- John 5:2-9: The lame man lying by the Pool of Bethesda didn’t even have a friend to help him into the water when the healing properties gurgled up — that’s isolation.
- Mark 1:40-45: The leper had to call out to Jesus from afar because lepers were not even allowed close to town — that’s confinement.
Jesus healed them all, restoring them to the touch of a loved one, the rapport of friends, the company of neighbors. Today these illnesses of isolation have different names: cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, heart disease, etc. Some of them could be stayed early or prevented altogether with access to preventative care. Other ailments and injuries can be treated, restoring people to community. None of this can happen when the health care system is available only to those with the financial resources to access it.
The One whose example we follow at the North Carolina Council of Churches restores people to community through the necessary channels. Those channels are in place and can be made to flow more readily. They must not be dammed up. To that end, I invite you to join us and millions across the country this week who will be sending this simple message to the White House:
Don’t make America sick again. Improve the Affordable Care Act. Don’t repeal it.
Put this message on a note card, put it in an envelope, and mail it to:
President Donald Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Imagine the picture millions of letters arriving at the White House by the end of the week. It will be a mountain. That image might help deter Congress from killing what has been a substantial improvement to American health care. This is about images, since words and ideas are falling on deaf ears. Mail it now.