The Jesus Co-Pay

After some interesting Twitter discussions about healthcare reform last week, I began to think about the conservative right position against universal/socialized/single-payer/public-option healthcare in America. Since the Republican party has so inextricably linked itself with the increasingly odious politically evangelical Christian movement in order to win elections, I'm rather insulted at the hostile reaction our Republican political establishment has shown towards any option that doesn't allow private insurance companies to bankrupt ordinary Americans with high premiums and denial of coverage on financial grounds. No one in favor of some form of public option for healthcare is under any illusion that the program won't be costly. I personally feel that it should likely be expected to cost the country a metric fuckton. If there was ever a government program for which deficit spending is a necessary evil, it's providing healthcare to every citizen regardless of ability to pay. Better to lose a dollar saving a life than to spend fifty cents taking a life in war. But the argument I'm so often hearing against healthcare is the "I shouldn't have to pay so some lazy bastard without a job can get healthcare."

Let's cut the bullshit. For the record, you are already paying for the lazy bastard without a job to get care at the emergency room. The law does not allow emergency rooms to refuse care to anyone. When that "lazy bastard" gets care at the ER, he does so on the hospital's dime if he cannot pay. The hospital passes that loss off to the people who can pay - if you have health insurance, that's you and your insurance company. You pay higher costs at the hospital, the insurance company charges you a higher premium, and healthcare costs continue to balloon well past the normal rate of inflation. Of course, just calling that person who can't pay a "lazy bastard" assumes that the ER isn't the only healthcare outlet for the working poor, who often can't take afford to take time off of work to visit a doctor during banker's hours.

But continue to call anyone who receives any kind of government aid a "lazy bastard" if that's what helps you sleep at night knowing you are condemning working mothers with three kids as shiftless drains on society. Forget the fact that not only do you receive government benefits for paying insurance premiums (it cuts down on your taxable income - so in effect, it's a tax credit) but your employer does as well (who also gets deductions for providing health insurance). We can quibble about the amount of benefit you receive in comparison, but don't act like you aren't sucking at a government teat just a wee bit.

The most galling part about hearing someone who claims to be a Christian criticizing a universal program as forcing them to pay for "lazy bastards" is how dissociated that attitude is from the teachings of Jesus Christ. Now, I'm no Christian - I find organized religion odious. Nor am I a Biblical scholar, but having grown up with Baptist and Assembly of God teaching, as well as having done my own reading, I can safely say that your attitude would make baby Jesus weep.

Jesus did a lot of healing in his short time as wandering prophet. He healed lepers, cripples, whores, the poor - you know, pretty much every shitheel he could find. If you believe the stories, he even cured a zombie (or created one - we don't know if Lazarus developed a taste for brains). I don't ever remember Jesus asking for a co-pay, or checking for an insurance card. He didn't even moralize about your life choices, or refuse to help someone who might have been gay, or had an abortion, or didn't vote Republican. He didn't ask if you were crippled from birth and therefore might not be eligible for MessiahCare™. Perhaps the disciples forgot to mention Jesus easy payment terms, or the fact that he took checks, debit or credit cards for service. No, Jesus healed the sick with nothing more than a few words about his father and a helpful life lesson. Maybe he asked for a loaf of bread or a fish for his posse, but even then, he was the original Discover card - give one fish, get five back in his handy Fish Back™ program.

If Republicans/Conservatives want to claim they are Christians and that our nation is a Christian one, founded on Christian values, it's time to put up or shut the fuck up. Jesus didn't charge a co-pay. Of course, neither the government nor healthcare professionals are Jesus; they can't practice medicine without some costs. Jesus had no drug costs, his time was free and his materials were divine. But the philosophy is what's important here. Jesus wanted to heal the sick, regardless of whether they were "lazy bastards" or working members of society, whether they were moral followers or the dregs of immorality. The government may not be Jesus, but they damn sure should aspire to one of the basic tenets of the founding of America: every citizen has the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," all of which is difficult when one has to choose between crippling bankruptcy or crippling sickness.

It's almost like the political establishment expects everyone to get their healthcare from this guy.


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