Yesterday the Republicans in the US House of Representatives finally succeeded in passing the American Health Care Act, the bill to repeal and “replace” Obamacare. Of course, it’s not a done deal: It still has to pass the Senate, which thankfully will be a much more difficult task. But even so, the passage of this bill leaves me with a heavy heart.
Part of it is that I myself have health insurance through Obamacare, but that’s not the big issue for me. Fortunately—knock on wood—my health is fine for the moment, and because I live in Mexico, I can get relatively cheap medical services if needed. What pains me more is the plight of the sick and suffering people who are depending on Obamacare right now for the insurance they need to get the care they need. I have a good friend who told me that he could finally get the mental health services he had needed for years as a result of Obamacare, and he is very afraid that he will lose those services. And on the extreme end of the suffering scale, let’s not mince words: Many people will literally die if the repeal goes all the way through.
This strikes me as the height of madness and cruelty. Of course, I cannot see inside the hearts of all those who voted for the bill, so I cannot divine their motives for doing so. But whatever their motives may have been, the bill they voted for cannot be reasonably seen as an honest attempt to actually provide good health care to those who need it most. As was widely reported, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the earlier version of this bill would cause 24 million people to lose their health insurance in the next ten years. The new bill does not appear to remedy this at all, an inconvenient truth that was probably behind the Republican leadership’s decision to not even send the new version for CBO review. It sure seems that those who voted for this bill knew, or at least should have known, that its effect on the lives of their fellow human beings would almost certainly be disastrous.
All of this brings my mind inevitably to the Golden Rule, especially since so many of the Republicans who voted for this bill identify as committed Christians. How could anyone who takes the teachings of Jesus seriously reconcile voting for this bill with Jesus’ injunction to do unto others as you would have them do unto you? This question isn’t angry or bitter for me; I’m truly befuddled and would like to know. Yes, I get that people can simply be hypocrites who vote for self-serving reasons, but even they usually try to justify in their own minds what they do—people have a need to at least think that they’re living up to their highest ideals. In a case like this, how do they do it?
Well, I don’t know. Fortunately, I can take comfort in A Course in Miracles and in the teachings of the historical Jesus. What these teachings tell me is that the people who voted to repeal and “replace” Obamacare yesterday are still precious children of an infinitely loving God, brothers and sisters who deserve only love, compassion, and goodwill. Nothing a person does can change that. These teachings tell me as well that God has a plan for all things, and that in this plan, each of us has a role to play in bringing His love to those who need it most. I understand that many people don’t share these views, and each person will need to find his or her comfort in whatever way is most helpful. But for me, these teachings and the life experiences they’ve given me are a real lifeline.
So, since the repeal deed has not yet been completely done, I say let’s stand up lovingly and firmly for everyone involved: those who need their hearts opened to compassion, and those who need the health care that Obamacare provides (however imperfectly). In fact, I would humbly suggest that we shoot even higher and go for single-payer. It is time, once again, to do unto others…