OAKLAND, CA — I am a veteran, a person of faith, a pastor in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, transgender, and a recipient of single payer with people in my life who live with disabilities, as well as those with mental health challenges, seniors, and folks who have been and are, in some cases, homeless. I am concerned that the failed healthcare legislation put forward in the U.S. Congress was not healthcare at all but a means to enrich the 400 wealthiest families at the expense of the disabled, poor, needy and working families. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 22 million people would have lost healthcare coverage with the wealthiest families getting a $772 million tax break. Also, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine, 28,600 people would be consigned to an early death. The legislation revealed a politics morally inept and floundering in the face of significant economic misery for many Americans. Mindful that the debate will continue behind closed doors particularly since the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was a campaign promise, pressure must be applied on Congress to ensure that millions of American voices are heard loud and clear.
As a person of faith, I look to the example of Jesus Christ as he gave free healthcare to all and did not charge any premiums. His example reminds me that the God many politicians use as a talking point to support policies detrimental to the disabled, poor, needy and working families, envisions healthcare as a divine and sacred right not to be hindered by those who see healthcare in terms of profits for shareholders.
Isaiah 10:1-4 says, “Ah you who make iniquitous decrees who write oppressive statutes to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans prey! What will you do on the day of punishment in the ruin that will come from afar. To who will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For this anger has not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.”
In the final analysis those who use sacred scripture, the word of God, to further the oppression of the American people for the benefit of profit shall reap the wrath of God. There is a price to pay for a healthcare legislation unjust. In light of the example of Jesus Christ and considering a politics morally inept, those who long for a healthcare system for all, and not just a tax break for the 400 wealthiest families, must daily cultivate compassion, hope and justice, and in so doing gradually change the hearts and minds and thus the politics, making healthcare for all not only a possibility but a reality and a right in the lives of millions of Americans.