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By Will Ramsey, guest columnist and medical student at Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine
As a medical student, following the health care reform bill wind its way through Congress feels like watching the future of my career teeter between two substantially different paths: one of freedom and the other of government-mandated security.
As a Christian, I desire for my life to be a testimony to the glory of God. I hope my convictions about the bill honor God, but, I want to be careful not to present these judgments as biblical. The bible does not talk about H.R. 3200 and so spiritual discernment in this case is difficult.
However, as I ponder how best to serve my God, my neighbors and my country, I find myself in opposition to this bill. I am concerned that it will inevitably worsen the current health care dilemma facing America.
The root of the concern is the incredible amount of control this bill will eventually give the government in making health care choices. In fact, sections of the bill seem to explicitly prepare for the eventual movement towards a single payer system.
So what does this mean for patients? A single payer system will remove my patients from being my boss and allow the government to take their place.
As I write this, my class is learning of the difficult decisions government health care committees will face when deciding who to provide care, and what care to provide. Questions such as “when has cancer progressed so far that funds are more appropriately allocated to palliative care rather than aggressive treatment,” will be answered by a committee seeking to streamline cost-effectiveness, rather than a patient and a physician. Additionally, the bill contains measures to place limits on readmitting patients and obtaining second opinions on a diagnosis.
Also at stake is doctor autonomy. For instance, I look forward to regularly participating in medical missions and offering my services for free. But, I find it interesting that if I render free services to one patient, and charge another who is covered by Medicare, the federal government can sue me.
I understand that this defect was intended to prevent physicians from discriminating against Medicare patients. Still, I shouldn’t have to worry about government consequences when trying to be charitable. And on that matter, physicians often face higher rates of malpractice lawsuits when serving in a free clinic, than they do when working for pay in their own clinic. Yet, this bill doesn’t even address tort reform!
There are endless examples like this, but like much of what the government sticks its nose in, this is a case of when good intentions result in stinking policy. Rarely do we see federal programs shrink, and allowing this bill to pass will open the door for increasing federal encroachment on your health care freedom as well as your spiritual or moral values.
Yes, I am concerned about the ethical issues of abortion, euthanasia, and eugenics. And while this bill is neutral on those topics, it would allow them to be under the control of lobbyists and special interest groups have the muscle to sway politicians.
Historically, churches provided much for the health care needs of Americans. It seems that the Government has been continuously supplanting the role of the church. I would love to see a return to this type of Church charity, and to see an America that naturally cares for each other instead of being forced to by law. What an amazing way for Her to regain influence in this country, and to testify to the love of Christ. Until then, Christians need to first ask what options glorify God before we vote.
H.R. 3200 is evidence that the U.S. needs health care reform. People are crying out for it, but while its intentions are good, its effects will be negative, and very hard to reverse. There are other options that don’t sacrifice liberty for security. We need to focus on proposals that approach the issue by reforming our private health insurance industry, which give all patients access to health care, encourage patient centered care, and provide the opportunity for choice.
Either way, my motivation to be a physician lies outside this debate. Ultimately the Lord transcends politics. His love and plan will continue, nationalized health care or not. My plan is to serve Him.
Will Ramsey is a medical student at Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association.
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