Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Tag: faith-based organizations

A Surprising Reason Some Still Don’t Like Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) has slowly become more popular as Americans discover that the law has lowered the number of people without health insurance and provided baseline benefits to millions of us (preventive care, youth coverage under parents until age 26, doing away with pre-existing conditions, etc.), without causing massive social or health care disruption.

Critics of the ACA cite ideals like letting the marketplace sort things out, rather than relying on government intervention to do so. Of course, the individual mandate, the requirement to be insured, was scaled back by the late 2017 tax reform law–such that people on the individual insurance market will be able to opt out in 2018 and beyond if they choose without penalty (even though the US Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the mandate is constitutional).

Recently, a reader sent me a fascinating article about why some evangelical Christians also dislike Obamacare. It’s known as crucicentrism.

Not all evangelicals hold this worldview. According to a source cited in the article, about one quarter of evangelicals espouse this viewpoint.

Still–what does it mean? From the aforementioned article:

To secure a permanent place at God’s side is far more important than any short-lived torment to the body. From this perspective, then, the greatest kindness one can show others is to help them reach the salvation of the Cross.

Such a crucicentrist view on compassion explains puzzling statements by white evangelicals like Mark Green, a Tennessee state senator. “Sickness,” Green told a church group, “is one of the main avenues that bring people to religion.” In the Gospels, he said, “every person who came to Christ came to Christ with a physical need. It was either hunger or a disease.” When the government created the ACA it did a “great injustice” because, Green explained, by helping people regain their health, it had limited “the Christian church’s role” and robbed sick individuals of the opportunity “to come to a saving knowledge of who God is.” People who fell ill would now look “to the government” instead of to God.

In this worldview, suffering is seen as a pathway to faith, which will lead to salvation. And, I presume, better health.

Maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. After all, institutions have always needed members, missions, and money to maintain their existence over millennia.

But I do find this inclination shockingly uncharitable.

What do you think?

Politics & The Art of Compromise

oral-contraceptives.s600x600The dustup over contraceptive coverage is a fine example of our democracy in action.

Whatever your view on the matter, I applaud HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for both her leadership on the matter and her willingness to engage in compromise.

Here’s what’s at stake:

  • The Affordable Care Act (the health care reform law, aka ObamaCare) includes a provision mandating that employers offer contraception as part of the menu of “covered preventive services” to their employees.
  • Many, especially Catholic-affiliated organizations, find this provision in direct contravention of their fundamental doctrines.
  • The federal government wants to honor basic constitutional principles: the right of persons to practice their religion (and not be bullied to alter their religious practices, so long as those concord with law); also the right of individuals to have access to safe, effective health care.

A noteworthy fact: More than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. [Source: Guttmacher Institute]

How should the fact that such a preponderance of women use contraception influence the debate? When something is as mainstream as contraception, it becomes a fact on the ground. Even though the framers of our constitution could not have imagined (nor likely would have ever commented on) contraceptive technology, how can such constitutional debate about fundamental rights and freedoms be interpreted in this case?

The latest compromise offer steers a narrow course: Religious organizations (e.g. non-profits like Catholic hospitals or colleges) that employ non-affiliated persons can refrain from offering contraception. However, the insurance companies that provide coverage for those employees will be required to offer contraception under the proposal–at their own cost.

Left out of the compromise (and suing on this basis) are for-profit companies (like “Hobby Lobby“) whose owners/directors cite their personal religious views as a basis for non-compliance with the mandate.

As always with compromise, the remaining question becomes “Where do you draw the line?”

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