Although Obamacare won a strong victory when the U. S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in the King v. Burwell case, recent congressional activity indicates that challenges will continue. In fact, the New York Times editorial “The Fight for Healthcare Isn’t Over” clearly indicates that all government healthcare programs are facing repeated attempts to dismantle or defund them.
However, once you provide citizens with improved access to healthcare, it can be ethically challenging to take away such a basic necessity. It will be interesting to hear the arguments used to justify such efforts since they will involve returning people to their former lives – the ones filled with greater physical pain, reduced worker productivity and lower wages, as well as far more oppressive debt loads directly tied to medical debts.
What Will Obamacare Need to Remain Viable in the Future?
The program’s greatest chance for long-term survival will probably depend upon another Democrat winning the White House in 2016. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will also require (1) a common desire to grant all citizens the freedom to live the healthiest and most affordable versions of their lives possible; (2) a determined mindset to rid our country’s healthcare system of every hint of bias or racism – just as we’ve tried to do with our public education programs since Brown v. Board of Education was decided back in 1954; and (3) a national commitment to embrace the highest democratic standards of innate equality that we share as Americans during our common – yet clearly brief – sojourn through this world.
The Majority of Americans Still Struggle Greatly to Afford Healthcare Costs
Over and over again, studies have shown that medical expenses are among the chief reasons many people have to file for bankruptcy in this country. Instead of being able to meet all of their family’s own basic food, housing, higher education, and retirement needs, a large percentage of our population must struggle daily just to cover the treatments they need for serious, chronic medical conditions.
Far too many of us forget that a large number of other people are not born into bodies blessed with good health – and that a large percentage of us will develop serious medical problems as we grow older. Furthermore, those physically privileged enough to work full-time throughout their lives constantly forget that no one gains anything of lasting value by denying others the freedom to live their healthiest and most productive lives.
Institutional Biases/Racism Must Be Rooted Out of All of Our Healthcare Institutions
Shouldn’t we take advantage of this positive moment in history to make whatever repairs Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid currently require – using a bipartisan approach — so they can remain strong and viable institutions? Contrary to the many negative stories some circulate in the media, most of these programs are currently meeting critical needs.
Is there still some aspect of bias or racism causing some citizens and politicians to treat less wealthy Americans with disrespect? If so, that’s sad since many hardworking people in this country have less buying power because they’re burdened with minimum-wage jobs. Too many employers simply refuse to pay those they don’t value a living wage.
Although we’ve worked hard to rid our government educational institutions of racial discrimination, that still remains a challenge today. The Brown v. Board of Education decision rendered by the U. S. Supreme Court only marked the beginning of that battle. Numerous lawsuits have followed that one, all determined to force public school districts to fully embrace integration.
Doesn’t it make sense to create the best healthcare system we can for everyone now, including those being helped by Obamacare? Isn’t that preferable to allowing a piecemeal approach to continue, one likely to wind up plagued with the same biases (and even racism) that undermined our educational system for so long? We must reject any hint of racism while also acknowledging the innate equality (or value) of all American lives.
Obamacare & Other Government Healthcare Programs Can Help Replace Racism with Equality
Surely there are no sound theological or secular arguments that support the unspoken belief that some of us are born more worthy of healthy human lives than others. Our innate equality or value as individual human beings is often confirmed in various ways. In fact, as one PBS special noted, geneticist Richard Lewontin’s work – still praised today – indicates that “our species as a whole is much more similar than we appear.”
Since the average American only lives to be about 79 years old – why aren’t we working together to make this brief stretch of time as positive as possible for each other? After all, adequate access to healthcare helps all citizens provide this country with our best productivity. That benefits all of us.
As Democrat Senator Chris Coons stated recently, “After years of political posturing, it’s time for Congress to come together to ensure that our healthcare system leaves no American behind.” The facts now prove that these programs are succeeding “because they entitle all eligible Americans to receive the healthcare they need.”
By Elizabeth Smith, graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and the University of Texas Law School
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