I just wrote a letter to the Long Island Catholic newspaper. I hope that they will print it, but in any event I present it here as well. Let me know what you think.
To the editor:
Is access to t health care a right or privilege? Based upon my understanding of Catholic Social Justice teaching I have to conclude that it is’s a right. If this is true, then all practical considerations – such as how we as a society are going to pay for this coverage and how to best administer the program – must be secondary.
The health care reform legislation passed by Congress under the Obama administration (pejoratively called “Obamacare” by those who oppose it) offers us as a nation the first real chance to ensure that this right to health care is protected. Yes, the legislation is unwieldy, pleases no one completely and calls for sacrifices from everyone. That’s the nature of a compromise. Yes, there are injustices that will have to be made right, mistakes to be corrected and litigation to work through and settle. It would be unrealistic to suppose such a monumental change in American society could be easy.
What concerns me is that the bishop’s legitimate concerns about the separation of Church and State will provide further ammunition for those who oppose the new legislation but who have yet to offer any reasonable alternative that would guarantee access to health care. (Please don’t tell me how the “free market” will solve everything. To date that approach has left 50 million -plus Americans without any health care and those of us who are fortunate to have some protection coping with annual double digit increases in premiums accompanied by ever scantier coverage.). Let us not lose sight of the forest for the trees and miss this opportunity to advance the cause of social justice in such a significant way.