Universal Health Care

I'm pretty sure nobody who reads this blog day in and day out is in favor of , but I have an axe to grind about the subject (not related to the previous post), and I have 10 minutes, so here goes.

Obama has apparently just come out with his version of universal health care. As you all know, Hillary is also an advocate for such a thing. No doubt all the candidates on the Left are going to come out in favor of it this Presidential season. (gosh, it started early, didn't it?) And let's face it: when they spell it out in the broadest terms possible, it sounds like a no-brainer.

Seriously: let's imagine some guy who's just an average Joe. He's 40, he's worked all his life in his own business (he makes a living doing lawn services like mowing and tree trimming), and up until about 5 years a go, he was doing pretty good. But 5 years ago he started developing some weird symptoms, and when he goes to see his doctor he is informed that he has Hepatitis C -- the blood-born kind which you can only get by blood-contact, sexual contact or by sharing needles. Well, he never did any drugs, but it turns out that his ex-wife had cheated on him in many ways, and he picked up the virus from her.

Now, after 5 years of progressive advance of the disease (he never had any health insurance), he's too sick to work consistently, so he's at the mercy of the welfare system. He worked hard for those years, and now he's too sick to work, but he's a relatively young man. His blue book value, so to speak, should be pretty good, but he's got a bad liver that's getting worse.

The existing medicade/SSI system will not help Joe. He's too young to retire, and liver disease is not considered a top-shelf disability. It takes him literally years to get anything approaching nominal treatment -- they drain his feet occationally from the fluid that's building up, and they tell him to alternate motrin and advil for the pain, but he has to go easy on those because they actually make his liver worse -- but he's given psychological care to make sure he doesn't go postal or commit suicide.

Joe becomes a homeless, unemployable person -- and for the most part, it is because his wife cheated on him, that made him sick, and then health care became a luxury he couldn't afford. The no-brainer for Joe is universal health care: everyone should have access to whatever degree of health care they need and cost should not be an issue. After all, he's a human being in God's image, right? Saved or not, Joe as a human being ought not to have to die sleeping under a bridge because he didn't have the money for a specialist.

Here's the problem for the no-brainer: Joe is already in the system receiving health care for free. He's on medicare and SSI. The problem is not that the treatment doesn't exist for Joe but that the system has already decided to what extent Joe should get health care. It has decidied what it is willing to pay for Joe's treatment. And the question, really, is if having this system expanded to every person in the country will increase Joe's chances of getting treated, or if it will decrease his chances of getting treated.

See: Joe's already a goner. The best case for Joe is that he can stabilize his current condition and live the rest of his life as an invalid. If that's where he's at medically, won't hundereds and perhaps thousands of cases get more funding and attention than his? Isn't the point of triage -- which is what has to happen in a situation where medical resources are finite and are exceeded by the number of patients in line -- to put the resources available in the right place to only stabilize the patients in line so that the most survive rather than are cured to the best of the existing technology's ability?

I bring this up because I think there's a Gospel answer to this question, but we have to get the matter of the local church resolved to answer it. You know: if the local church is merely the number of people who have the right-hearted reverence of Christ, and once in a while they get together and sing praise songs and hear a really good and passionate speaker, that local church has no Gospel solution to the problem of Joe.

Think about that as I reconstruct the lost part 3 of my pet peeve: did Jesus intend the local church to have a response to guys like Joe, or did Joe never occur to Jesus?