The Common Good

Ohio Elections and Issue Three

In 2009, I wrote several posts for God's Politics in support of health care reform. The United States is one of the few industrialized countries in the world that does not offer universal health care to its citizens.

Read more of Valerie's 2009 health care reform posts HERE, HERE and HERE.

I considered the passage of the Affordable Care Act as an indication of human moral evolution. For the first time in its history, the United States was going to set down a marker on health care and join the nations of the world that consider it a right not a privilege.

Now, those opposed to the law are in the process of taking it apart piece by piece through lawsuits in federal court and in a ballot initiative in Ohio next Tuesday.

Issue three in the Ohio ballot would allow the people of Ohio to opt out of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance in the Affordable Care Act. If this initiative passes, it would be unfortunate for the people of Ohio.

The Affordable Care Act is too conservative for me. I want Medicare-for-all, paid for through a value-added tax. Everyone would pay a little more for the things we buy, but everyone would also be able to go to the doctor.

I am a great believer that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And people could get the medical treatment they needed without bankrupting their families.

Bankruptcy because of medical bills is still a reality in the United States, while it is a thing of the distant past in many other countries. A Medicare-for-all system would take profit-making by insurance companies out of the health care equation. There would be no problem of a mandate to purchase a product.

However, this is not where we find ourselves. Today we are in a situation where in order to have a patient's bill of rights when it comes to health insurance -- coverage for pre-existing conditions, no recisions, no caps on coverage -- a mandate to buy insurance is necessary.

If insurance companies are going to be required legally to cover people with preexisting conditions, people ought to be obligated by law to buy insurance when they are healthy. Otherwise it would be like buying fire insurance for your house once the house is on fire. And that would not be fair or just to health care companies. Hence, the individual mandate.

The argument against the mandate is that government ought not to have the power to force anyone to buy any product. We are not forced to buy automobile insurance because we have a choice whether to own a vehicle.

We are not forced to buy fire insurance for our homes. They could burn down and we could suffer the loss and bear its burden, financially and otherwise.

The difference is that we all live in fragile human bodies that at some point require medical attention. A righteous society ought not to stand and watch while someone dies because he or she doesn't have health insurance.

The sad fact is that some 50 million Americans do not have health insurance and many of them will die too soon because of a lack of early intervention.

In an earlier God's Politics post on this subject, "Freedom from Fear in the Health Care Debate," I argued that the individual mandate does not rob anyone of his or her liberties.

It does not stop a person from attaining any personal goals.

In fact, in a very real sense, the mandate will enhance individual liberty and not constrain it.

Ohioans please stop, think, and pray before you vote.

portrait-elverton-dixon11Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at JustPeaceTheory.com. She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.

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