The Time to Reform Our Health Care System is NOW!
There is no issue of social justice more fundamental than the right to decent, affordable health care. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
We are involved as people of faith because we believe this is a profoundly moral and spiritual issue. In the words of Rabbi Alexander Schindler, “Health is not a luxury, nor should it be the sole possession of a privileged few. We are all created in the image of God – and this makes each human life as precious as the next.”
Health care is not an optional commodity. It is a fundamental good and a fundamental right. As members of WISDOM, we believe that 2009 is the time when we must comprehensively reform our health care system. We believe that any plan must adhere to the following principles:
1. The system must offer universal access. It must include everyone, regardless of age, medical history, race, genetic background, or ability to pay. It must be especially mindful of those most vulnerable, such as children and those who lack political or economic power.
2. The system must be comprehensive. It must meet the full range of health care needs, including primary, preventive and long-term care, acute care, and treatment for mental illness and alcohol and drug addiction.
3. The system must provide high-quality care. It must convey a genuine respect for human life and dignity, and insure quality care from prenatal care, throughout infancy, childhood and adult life, and at the end of life.
4. The system must be fair and promote the common good. There must be a fair financing mechanism and costs and burdens must be spread across the entire community. A fair sharing of benefits and burdens binds the community together.
5. The system must be responsive to choice. It must provide freedom to choose our doctors, the treatment we receive, and our health care plans. It must engage the patient in decision-making, and respect the religious and ethical values of individuals and institutions. It must be portable, so that persons can change jobs without fear of losing their health coverage.
6. The system must restrain costs and use our resources wisely. The system must exercise good stewardship of our community’s resources by reducing administrative costs, striving for efficiency, and simplifying the delivery of care.
7. The system must be transparent and accountable. Checks and balances are necessary to insure that the powers granted to government and private agencies regarding health care and its financing are not abused.