On Sunday during announcements at church, one of our members expressed his frustration with the President’s latest attempt to emasculate the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For this parishioner, it’s personal because he loves and cares for two adult children with disabilities whose quality of life will be greatly impacted by this decision to cut the subsidies for insurance companies. In fact, it’s personal for a lot of people. When we allow partisan politics and campaign promises to come before the lives of other human beings, we have lost our witness of Jesus’ commandment to love all our neighbors. Health coverage should not be a political issue.
When I moved to Michigan fifteen years ago, I would never have thought I would advocate for universal health care. I had listened to my colleagues in the hospitals and offices where I worked as an RN and thought the idea would compromise the quality of care we were able to provide. I bought the cries of “socialism” and concern over loss of individual rights that my co-workers espoused. To be honest, I was also surrounded by very loving and nurturing friends from a far more conservative base than I find myself with now. I had not been exposed to different perspectives.
So what changed for me? I began to listen to other points of view – and I began to volunteer at St Peter’s Free Clinic in Hillsdale. Over the fifteen years I’ve worked at the clinic, I’ve gotten to know many hard-working individuals who have been unable to afford health insurance. I’ve listened to their stories and heard their struggles. Sure, they had the clinic which provided free care and many available medications but the clinic cannot provide the continuity of care that one receives from a primary care physician, nor can it provide surgery or other more expensive treatments and medications. Once the ACA and the Medicaid Expansion passed, hundreds of our patients have been able to have the benefit of health insurance that works for them, their families and their budgets. I see former patients around the community all the time and they always express their delight at how their lives have changed because of their insurance. Not only do they have better medical care, but they also have the pride of being able to take care of themselves.
I’m bringing this up now because our parishioner’s concern was so moving and also because our Diocesan Convention is now less than two weeks away. You might be wondering how they are connected. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know that I don’t generally believe resolutions are the most effective way to get things accomplished. That being said, I have worked with enough originators of these resolutions to know their passion for the issues and their desire to see equity and justice for the people affected by these concerns. We will be considering five resolutions this year that definitely were born from the heart-felt interests of their proposers. One of them speaks specifically to the provision for affordable health care and it comes as a result of a resolution passed at General Convention in 2015:
Resolution 2015 – A092 Affirm Support for Government Funding of Social Safety Net Programs
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church affirm that God has provided for all of creation, forming a world of sufficiency for all, and that inequality exists not because there is not enough, but because of the way resources are distributed; we depend on God and one another and are commanded to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the suffering and afflicted; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention affirm its support for full and adequate funding of social safety net programs such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food assistance for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the National School Lunch Program, all of which lift and keep people out of poverty and address basic food and health care needs in vulnerable populations.
Clearly, it was the intention of the 2015 General Convention to support the ACA and the Medicaid Expansion as well as many of the other programs that have lost valuable funding by this new administration. We are called by this resolution to speak out against any attacks on these programs that will leave the most vulnerable without provision for reasonable health care so now is the time. Call your legislators and let them know that, as members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, this action to cut subsidies is unacceptable. You can find the correct contact information here.
The next step is to join us at Convention on October 27th and 28th at the Suburban Collection Diamond Center in Novi. Convention is for all of us – even if you are not representing your congregation as a delegate. Sharing in the life of our Church is always inspiring and encouraging as we network with others from around the diocese. You can find all the information you need here.
I look forward to seeing you in Novi!
Let us pray –
Lord Jesus, you are the Divine Physician,
and the source of all life and health.
Guide our nation at this critical moment,
as our government seeks to modify our health care provisions.
Give our elected officials
the humility to know that they are servants, not masters.
Give them the wisdom to realize
that every life has equal value.
Give them the strength to resist the idea
that some lives can be sacrificed to save others.
Give your people the courage to speak up
and to hold public officials accountable for their actions.
Save us, Lord Jesus,
let every reform in our public policy
be based on the reform of our hearts and mind
in the light of your Gospel,
for you are Lord forever and ever. Amen.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council