Health Care

To Know, To Love, To Heal

“The spirit that enables one person to overleap the boundary of the body in knowledge and love and to incorporate the other in the self is matched by the same spirit in the other.”
~ Luke Timothy Johnson, Living Jesus: Learning the Heart of the Gospel

“He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’”   
~ Mark 5:34

After several days of renewed public debate about health care, we hear this weekend the familiar healing stories from Mark chapter 5. By Sunday we will know the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding challenges to the Affordable Care Act. So politically charged is this discussion, so designed is it to distort, divide, undermine, and confuse, it’s easy to forget that the issue, at its core, is a simple one: how ought a humane society tend to its suffering ones and aim for the well-being of all?

We will also hear this passage on a day when many will be anticipating the Fourth of July, and perhaps expecting their Sunday worship to kickstart the holiday’s celebration. In hearing the text from Mark, such worshipers might well wonder: What does Jesus’ encounters with a desperate, suffering woman and a young girl believed to be dead have to do with America’s love of freedom and fireworks?

Waiting for Health Care

With the SCOTUS ruling on the future of U.S. health care still pending, filmmaker Peter Nicks provides an inside look at one American hospital struggling to care for its uninsured patients. In this New York Times Op-Doc (opinion documentary), Nicks shows the reality for many hospitals in the country in low-income areas. It is estimated that facilities like the one profiled, receive over 16 million emergency room visits a year from low-income or uninsured patients.

Affordable Care Act: What Could Happen?

CNN examines some of the possible outcomes of the Supreme Court's imminent decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act:

"The election-year rulings will not only guide how every American receives medical care but will also establish precedent-setting boundaries for how government regulation can affect a range of social areas. Your health and your finances could be on the line.

The outcome's possibilities are myriad: a narrow or sweeping decision? A road map to congressional authority in coming decades? Which bloc of justices, which legal argument will win the day?"
 
Read more here

Will We Be Able to Afford Medicare?

Cost of Medicare photo, aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com
Cost of Medicare photo, aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com

We'll be hearing a lot about Medicare between now and November. President Barack Obama wants to tweak it. Mitt Romney wants to reinvent it. Everyone who wants to get elected, however, agrees on one thing: nothing will change for the current crop of seniors and soon-to-be seniors.

Whew. Six months and Mr. Neff will be home free! Less than a year and a half and we'll both have free health care! And then we can afford to retire, right?

Wrong.

Transforming Lives, One Cup of Coffee at a Time

Growers First coffee farmer, Rito Sierra with his wife, Maria, and four of their
Growers First coffee farmer, Rito Sierra with his wife, Maria, and four of their five children.

Fight global poverty, invest in agriculture. ~ Growers First

As the winter winds bite at our collars, a hot cup of coffee is a perfect antidote for healing.  But what you might not consider when you sip a mug of dark roast is the economic injustices that many coffee growers around the world face.   

Coffee is one of the largest cash crops in the world – the U.S.D.A. Foreign Agricultural Service reports that last year 15,689,340,000 pounds of coffee were distributed worldwide. Yet, indigenous coffee growers see only a tiny fraction of its revenue. 

These are some of the reasons why fair exchange programs such as  Growers First  got into the coffee business — to tip the scales of economic and social inequity that has become a way of life for many coffee farmers globally in a more just direction.

Even more importantly, Growers First exists to transform lives. The non-profit based in Laguna Beach, Calif., has a powerful story of action, conflict, struggle — and ultimately hope.

The War is Over. We're All Responsible.

U.S. troops head to Iraq, 2006. Image via Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/w1FpAB
U.S. soldiers board a flight to Iraq in Kuwait, Oct. 2006. Image via Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/w1FpAB

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said about the war in Vietnam, “Some are guilty, all are responsible.” It is a good reminder of our responsibilities now that the war in Iraq has officially been declared ended.

First, we as a society are responsible for the necessary care for our returned veterans. A total of 1.5 million American men and women served in the armed forces in Iraq.  Nearly 35,000 suffered physical injuries, as many as 360,000 may have brain injuries, and as many as 25 percent have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Suicides and divorces are rising, homelessness and unemployment are high.

Having sent them to war, our society now needs to assume the responsibility for providing what they and their families need. As Abraham Lincoln reminded the country in his second inaugural speech, as the Civil War was ending in March 1865, one of the unfinished tasks was “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan …”  

We must advocate for and ensure that in the budget and deficit cutting battles to come, the necessary funding for veterans care and benefits are maintained. It’s a moral obligation.

The Friday News: Dec. 16, 2011

Nikki Haley Endorses Mitt Romney For President; Lawmakers Agree on Spending Bill, Avoid Shutdown; Omaha Tri-Faith Initiative Has Unique Approach To Interfaith Relations; Christopher Hitchens Has Died; Did Bachmann Just Save Romney?; Wikileak suspect wants recusal; Health Care Experts Warn That Wyden/Rayn Plan Will End Guaranteed Access To Care For Seniors; New Evangelicals, Old News.

The Afternoon News: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011

From Judgment To Hope (OPINION); Obama Administration To Consider Gay Rights When Allocating Foreign Aid: Source; Coming Soon To The Southwest: The Age Of Thirst; Iowa Republicans Side With Newt Gingrich Over Mitt Romney On Immigration; Occupy Wall Street Protesters To Occupy Foreclosed Homes The Amazing Rise Of Anna Hazare, India's Gandhi-Like Protest Leader; Arnold Schwarzenegger Urges Candidates To Champion Green Energy; The Bomb Buried In Obamacare Explodes Today-Hallelujah!

Join a Circle of Protection on Nov. 16: Standing For and With the Poor

The New York City Human Circle will be replicated throughout across the nation, when faith leaders host Human Circles as members of the Sojourners National Mobilizing Circle, which is bringing together faith and community leaders to organize faith-rooted actions in their communities.

The purpose of these circles is not only to lobby for the poor but also with them.

Food for Life

THE DOCUMENTARY film Forks Over Knives is saddled with the worst title I’ve seen in decades. It also suffers from a severe case of moderation and reasonableness in a culture in which ignorant extremism usually carries the day. This is too bad, because the movie happens to tell a story that holds at least half the answer to America’s health-care crisis.

The makers of Forks Over Knives are here to tell us that many of our most common, and expensive, diseases—diabetes, heart disease, even some cancers—are the result of a bad diet. The film follows several individual patients, including the director, Lee Fulkerson, who suffer from multiple chronic ailments. They come under the care of a doctor who prescribes a radically low-fat, plant-based regimen of whole grains, legumes, fresh produce, and exercise. Within months all of the patients, director included, have shed dozens of pounds, cancelled their many costly prescriptions, and rendered redundant the army of medical specialists, technicians, and health insurance bureaucrats they had formerly employed.

Forks Over Knives is based on research by Cornell University professor T. Colin Campbell and Cleveland Clinic physician Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. Campbell was one of the lead researchers for the China-Cornell-Oxford Project, a study of diet and health that tracked 6,500 people over two decades and found hundreds of statistically significant associations between the consumption of animal protein and the occurrence of heart disease and cancer. Meanwhile, at the Cleveland Clinic, Esselstyn, an endocrinologist by training, was working with a group of heart patients whom the clinic’s cardiologists had essentially given up for dead. He placed them on a low-fat, all-plant diet, with astounding results.

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