Thursday, July 30, 2009

Faith Communities in Support of Health Care for All: A Catholic Perspective

Sixty-four years later, nearly two decades since legislators last seriously considered comprehensive health reform, it is long past time for Congress to act. President Obama ran on a platform of reforming health care. The legislative and political window will be open only briefly. The moment to act is now.

The basic principle of true health care reform is clear, as it was in Truman’s day: Any program that emerges must include universal access to affordable quality care. Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, had it right this spring when he told the Senate Finance Committee that “the moral measure of any health care reform proposal is whether it offers affordable and accessible health care to all, beginning with those most in need.”

Anything less, given the moment, will be judged a failure.


The politics of the “public option” are, to say the least, difficult. The forces arrayed against it -- largely private insurance companies -- are powerful. It remains, however, the most effective means under consideration to achieve universal affordable quality care for all Americans.

It is shameful that the wealthiest nation in the world, one that prides itself on its level of material development, is still bickering about what every other developed nation in the world has long since accomplished: making basic health care accessible to all citizens. Our inability as a nation to frame this discussion as the moral discussion it is speaks volumes about how our material development has vastly outpaced our moral development, as a people.