The Common Good

Republicans Want Health-Care Reform Too!

I'm a registered Republican. I didn't vote for Obama. I believe in free-market enterprise. I like smaller government. There, I said it. It's out!

That said, I think government plays essential roles in civilized (any) society. Defense, interstate highways, basic education to name a few. And there is one more role I would add to the list. Health care! I know we have the most advanced medical treatment in the world -- and the most expensive. I wouldn't want to see it compromised. But I have to admit that something is wrong with the picture when the working poor and a sizable portion of the middle class don't have access to these benefits. I am coming to believe what the rest of the modern world has concluded -- that health care is a basic human right. To be last in line of industrialized nations to provide medical treatment for all our citizens is not something I am proud of.

I like government close to home. That's one reason I'm a Republican. But I also have to admit that social security has served us fairly well, and I have no real complaints about how my Medicare is working. Oh, yes, the bureaucratic paperwork is aggravating and I hate talking to a computerized recording, but I guess that's not too different from the way most large corporations function these days. I seriously doubt that health-care reform can be accomplished without raising our taxes, but, frankly, that's one of the taxes I wouldn't mind paying. Compared to the costly wars we have funded recently, health care seems like a rather redemptive investment.

Do I like what Obama is proposing? Actually, I do! While I wouldn't want a government takeover of our health care system, I do see the value in a system that insures every citizens' access to competent medical treatment. Obviously it's a very complex issue. And I'd be the first to acknowledge my ignorance in many of the complicated realities of this confusing medical world. I do know, however, that it makes no sense to see my low-income neighbors go to the hospital emergency room for ailments that could be treated inexpensively in a community clinic. And I do know from personal experience that physicians proscribe expensive and unnecessary procedures just to protect themselves from lawsuits. I guess these are a couple of the reasons why they say the system is broken.

I like competition. That's one reason I like what Obama is proposing. I think I'm ready to let the government give health care a try. Our free-enterprise approach, while propelling us to the top spot in medical advances, has failed to figure out a system that shares the benefits with the whole of society. And that's a justice issue. Say what you will about Obama, on this one he's on the right side. We may disagree strongly about his politics and his methods, but his push to see that all citizens are being rightly cared for -- especially the poor -- is a push in the right direction.

And I'm still a Republican.

Bob Lupton is the president of FCS Urban Ministries and a board member of the Christian Community Development Association.

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