The following remarks were delivered by Jennifer Copeland at a press conference at the General Assembly on Healthcare for all this morning.
There’s a story in the Gospel of Luke (5:17-39) about a man who couldn’t walk. As usual, there was a crowd around Jesus and even people who could walk were having a hard time reaching him. This particular man was being carried on a mat, so there was no getting through for him. The story goes that the people carrying him on the mat, climbed up on the roof and lowered the man down “in the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.”
Most people assume the folks carrying this man and using their ingenuity to get him where he wanted to go were his friends. But there is nothing in the story to support that theory. They might have been his friends, but they might just as easily have been folks he hired to carry his mat or folks who saw his dilemma and wanted to help out. But Jesus was impressed by their effort at getting the man where he needed to be.
Jesus was so impressed, he not only forgave the man’s sins, which might have been all he wanted, he also made it possible for the man to get up and walk. That only happened because that man had access to the healthcare Jesus could provide.
How many people are lying around on mats in N.C. because they can’t get the healthcare they need? How many people don’t have anybody to carry them through the crowd because they can’t pay for healthcare? How many people will never be lowered through the roof and put in the presence of a medical care provider because they have no access to healthcare?
Now, more than ever, in the midst of a global pandemic, we know the importance of access to health care. How many people will die from Covid-19 because they could not access the necessary medical care? How many people will they infect who might also die because of limited healthcare options? The numbers are staggering. One person dies every minute of every day in this country from Covid.
It’s always been a moral matter—healthcare for all. Now, we understand why tying healthcare to employment will never work or making healthcare dependent on family status will never work or setting income limits on access to healthcare will never work.
When we can give something so life changing, so life giving to people, why wouldn’t we do it? Why wouldn’t we want to say to every one of them, “Roll up your bed and walk”?