A proposal: SAMARITAN CARE Progressive Christians Offer a Plan

 
Dear Progressive Christian Friends and Allies:
 
Recently, I created a curriculum for churches to use for adult education about faith and health care in America:  Samaritan Care.  I hope you’ll use it freely – adapting it and giving me feedback for improving and extending it.
 
Based on the feedback I’ve received so far, it seems to me that our progressive Christian movement has an opportunity to make a really positive impact on the health care debate as the Congressional elections loom ahead.  Obamacare is being picked apart steadily by the Republicans, who have no clear, viable plan for replacing it.  Universal, single-payer governmental health insurance – some form of Medicare for all – is surely the best plan.  But getting from here to there will be enormously difficult in the short term, even when Democrats could gain control of both the executive and legislative branches again.  Odds are that in the best realistic scenario over the next four years, some form of revived and restructured Obamacare would be the most likely interim outcome.  But Trump and the Republicans have wrecked the Obamacare “brand”, so another is needed in order to inspire the public imagination.
 
To hasten the day when a good interim solution, as well as the best long-term solution, is achieved, a clear goal is needed to put in front of the American people.  This is where progressive Christians can be very useful to the cause, by promoting Samaritan Care as a concise outline of what any real health care reform plan must include.  It is a short list of essentials, against which any health care policy proposal can be compared.
 
To this end, I’d very much appreciate your input on this draft of a description of Samaritan Care.  Please send me ideas for inclusion and revision, and suggestions for strategy to go public with it.
 
Samaritan Care
 
We are Christians in America who are inspired by Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10).   His story was his answer to the question:  “Who is my neighbor?”  The Good Samaritan made sure that a wounded man  – a total stranger from a different tribe and community, lying by the roadside – got not only first-aid, but received pre-paid comprehensive health care until he was fully healed.   This sacred story reveals that we’re all neighbors when we show mercy to each other.  Jesus told his disciples to do two things:  proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and heal the sick.  The first hospitals were Christian monasteries.  So providing health care to all is intrinsic to our mission as Christ-followers.  
 
Each one of us, at some point in our lives, will be the wounded person lying on the side of the road.  And each one of us can be the Good Samaritan – by standing up for universal, comprehensive 
 
Samaritan Care is a faith-informed, fact-based consensus among American Christians about what our nation’s health care system must include.
 
Samaritan Care guarantees that every American has access to comprehensive health care with uniform minimum standards:

Secure: Continuous coverage for all, regardless of pre-existing health conditions, income, or employment status.
 *  Comprehensive: Coverage for hospitalization, doctor visits, preventive care and checkups, reproductive health, prenatal and maternity care, mental health care, specialist treatments, basic vision care, basic dental care, occupational health care, nursing home care.
*  Equitable: Co-pays for medical treatment and prescription drugs that are affordable for people of all income levels; assurance of access to quality care in all regions of the country.
*  Affordable: Cost-control provisions and incentives to assure the financial viability of the health care system.

None of these requirements is out of reach for America, the world’s richest and most creative nation.  There are many ways to achieve their implementation.

Faith communities will hold politicians accountable to meet these essential expectations.

Are you with us?

Rev. Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life, USC
Website: MINDFULCHRISTIANITY.ORG Weblog: MUSINGS Follow me on twitter: @jtburklo
See the GUIDE to my articles and books
Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

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