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Religious right gets health care very wrong

August 31, 2009, 5:59 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

In a rather surprising story, Religion News Service’s Kristen Day recently reported that

Conservative Christian groups on Wednesday (Aug. 26) ramped up opposition to health care reform, saying the current system “has problems” but “it is working.”

Such statements just don’t reflect the facts on the ground. It’s estimated that 137,000 people died between 2000 and 2006 because they were uninsured. Premiums have risen four times as fast as wages in recent years, leading to huge profits for insurers, strained family budgets, and people losing coverage. The Urban Institute projects that the number of uninsured Americans will reach 60,000,000 within ten years if reform is not passed. As things currently stand, 47,000,000 Americans lack health coverage, and insurance companies have the incentive and the ability to jack up premiums and co-pays at will, refuse to insure people with pre-existing conditions, and deny needed treatment to seriously ill policyholders. For those that scripture commands people of faith to care for — the poor, the sick, the powerless — our healthcare system doesn’t just have problems, it is a problem.

It’s also strange to see this new line of attack from the religious right. They’ve been opposing health care on a number of dubious grounds for months – an “abortion mandate,” euthanasia, rationing, and so forth. Not only is this new attack on as factually shaky ground as their previous charges, but their argument inverts the priorities of the Gospel by defending a system that works for the rich at the continued expense of the poor and breezily flouts of the common good. There’s certainly room for reasonable disagreement among people of good will on various aspects of reform, but it’s hard to make an honest, moral case that the status quo just needs a couple of tweaks.

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