February 2014

Be a Christian - support the ACA

By Galen Larson

There must be some good in the Affordable Care Act, as I read recently in the Cortez Journal that the corporation managing our Southwest Memorial Hospital is looking forward to its implementation to help pay off their $4.6 million debt (the debt incurred by people with no health insurance).

Are we a caring community? Yes, we are, as evinced by how the community rallies around those unfortunate enough to be struck with a debilitating illness or accident.

But runs, walks, chili and spaghetti suppers, good intentions and prayers do not and cannot pay the rising cost of health care and prescription medicine. That’s why something more was needed.

The Affordable Care Act is not a new idea. Some version of it has been proposed by presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, from Theodore Roosevelt to the present day. If we taxpayers can provide health care from cradle to grave for Iraqis (a provision agreed to by George W. Bush – and heaven knows they need it the way they harm each other with the freedom we gave them), then all Americans ought to be insured as well. If we are to become the Christian nation we espouse to be, we should heed his word – in short, heal the sick, feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted. Chili and spaghetti dinners take time and raise very little money in comparison to the size of medical bills. Isn’t it better when everyone gives a little, such as when we all gave a dime to cure birth defects?

I have some firsthand experience with health insurance companies. When, bless her, my apparently healthy wife had a sudden, debilitating stroke, we fortunately were covered by very good health insurance. Still, in order to get care for her, we had to jump through many hoops dictated by that company. Her hospital stay was limited to so many days. To get further care she was subjected to excruciating pain that did her no good. It was either that or they would discontinue her care.

Then it was a $500-a-day rehab facility in another state and city. At the end of 30 days, I was informed that I would have to put her in a rest home. I said no way, I would care for her at home. The insurance company then terminated her care. I brought her back to her house where she could gaze upon the land she so loved.

What a strong constitution she had, for an energetic person to lie in a bed completely at the mercy of a fumbling, bumbling caregiver for five years and never complain. Through the learning curve we found a more comfortable mattress, a many-positioned bed, and pneumatic wheels for her wheelchair. Thank heaven for the hospice nurse and caregiver in her waning months.

All this shows the many flaws in our system and the need to keep refining it. The system should reward those who want to care for their loved ones at home, rather than punish them by cutting off their care. There should be services and support available and paid for by insurance. This is how it would be if we lived in a country with universal health care.

And what if we hadn’t had coverage at all? I can just imagine how one would be treated if they didn’t have insurance or money to pay for their loved one’s care.

With affordable health care, people won’t have to fight for Christ’s declaration to heal the sick. Even though I am not a religious person, I still think it’s a good credo or moral obligation. Now, thanks to what critics term Obamacare, we have taken a step in that direction. Children can stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26. People can’t be refused coverage for pre-existing conditions. Those with chronic illnesses such as cancer or congenital defects won’t be “cut off ” if they reach some arbitrary spending cap.

I usually don’t agree with big corporations, but in this instance if the ACA could alleviate their debt, I’m on their side. Hospitals and education are conducive to growth. We need both here. The hospital cannot survive on chili or spaghetti dinners, and neither can the ill, the poor, the elderly. We all need the ACA.

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.