Monday, March 22, 2010

Healthcare Reform Passes...and I’m Glad

Tonight, my roommate Neal and I watched the House of Representatives vote in favor of the healthcare reform bill. Both Neal and I usually call ourselves conservatives. But we both cheered when the bill passed by narrow margins.

The debate over this bill has provoked more intense opposition from American conservatives than anything else I can remember. Not a single Republican in either house of Congress voted for it. Not a single one.

The lack of congressional bipartisanship I blame on the failure of the Democratic leadership to include Republicans in the drafting of this bill, or to add even the most sensible Republican-supported provisions to the bill (e.g.: medical tort reform). Nevertheless, the unprecedented government subsidization and regulation of the healthcare industry introduced by this bill is basically the antithesis of American conservatism. So how can I, a self-described conservative, be happy about it?

My political views have shifted and, I hope, grown over the past couple of years. I used to be a conservative in the sense that I supported the entire political agenda labeled “conservative” in American political discourse. I now describe myself as a conservative because I believe in limited government, and I am skeptical of grand ideas and solutions. But I would like to think that my commitment to a just society, where all are free to pursue their God-given potential, trumps my grumpy-old-man tendencies.

Which brings us to healthcare.

As inappropriately devoted followers of this blog may know, I am currently trying to read through all the prophets. Yesterday, by complete chance (except there’s no such thing), my reading progress brought me to Ezekiel 34:

“Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?...You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. ...You have ruled them harshly and brutally.”

I would never describe access to healthcare as a “human right,” as Nancy Pelosi did in her floor speech last night. If certain human rights are available only to those living in well-functioning industrialized societies, then the entire category called “human rights” is cheapened. But healthcare is absolutely a human need, just like food, water, and shelter. In our society, healthcare is much harder to get than any of those things. Only millionaires can safely afford to pay for their own healthcare. Everyone else needs an insurance plan. These plans are costly, getting costlier, and available only to the relatively healthy. And government safety nets like Medicaid fail the poor with alarming regularity. The weakest in our society have the hardest time filling the most basic of human needs. There’s nothing level about that playing field, nothing “free” about a market like that – or just.

There are many problems with this bill. But because of its passage, 30 million people who had no access to healthcare will now have that access. We can work out the other problems later. For now, let’s give thanks that all of our (many) future healthcare debates will occur in a country where everyone is able to participate in the healthcare market.

And, for your entertainment and for the historical record, here is a collection of healthcare-related Facebook statuses my friends posted last night and today:

Boehner for President 2012. There, I said it.

sick to his stomach. USA is one step closer to socialism...

...House passes the Health Care Bill!

Healthcare Reform: The process wasn't pretty... but I'm glad that it passed...

National Health Care: The compassion of the IRS and the efficiency of the USPS


Well, now that healthcare has destroyed America, the gays can't any more. I'm sure they are glad to have that responsibility off their shoulders.

According to google, in the last hour, searches for impeach Obama have dramatically increased, just an interesting fact.

Thank you Congress and President Obama, now I will have health care, as well as millions of others, proud to be an equal American!!

hey yo, change is needed. any kind, really.

waiting for the apocalypse

get in line for health care.

2014 can't come soon enough for some people: ______ and ______, I'm looking at you. :) Finally, an end to health insurance discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.

"Democrats hope that once the voters see the new healthcare law taking effect they will learn to like it" -BBC news


  1. ummm...don't canada and (maybe) australia already have socialized health care? :)

    And I'm not sure if I'm with you that I'm happy about it being passed, but I'm definitely empathetic about the social need. I often wrestle with my conservative tendencies for small government and my heart (and Scripture, like Ezekiel) telling me to seek justice for the poor.

    Thanks for posting! It's been interesting looking at my friends' facebook statuses too. I can tell how my college friends are by there statuses :)

  2. Hey Sarah!

    Right you are. The guy who wrote that is a particularly witty Canadian. :)