Widows and Orphans

Repeal and replace Obamacare is a politicism that affects me personally. I’ve talked before about how Obamacare saved my ass – literally. Now the replacement proposal is here. As I said before, this is not political for me. It’s very personal. I’ve heard a few times the health care bill will hurt Donald Trump supporters the most. That is certainly true of South Carolina, which went for Trump. USA Today says that Medicaid cuts are going to hit us harder than most states for a number of reasons.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated 14 million people will lose Medicaid by 2026, and 22 million will lose insurance. Republicans who created this bill expect the states to make up the shortfalls, but because of high poverty rates, our state’s budget will not be able to make it up. We’ve been trying for years to come up with money for our roads that are falling apart. We are already second to last in spending per Medicaid and CHIP beneficiary. We are already 42nd in health status overall. If the bill passes with the Medicaid and CHIP cuts, South Carolina will have to come up with an extra $200 million per year over the next ten years. If we can’t do that, we are going to have to make some hard choices. Lynn Bailey, Columbia health care consultant, put it this way.

[C]uts could set the stage for a “Medicaid Hunger Games” where leaders play needy groups against one another — children against the elderly, the chronically ill against the catastrophically ill, the traumatically injured needing rehab against the substance-addicted.

Does that sound overly dramatic? Just look at the numbers.

  • Nearly 1 million South Carolinians are covered by Medicaid or CHIP. Of these, 75% are working families. So don’t give me that “they just don’t want to work” crap.
  • Out of a total of 20,000 nursing home beds, half are funded through Medicaid. Without Medicaid, where will they go?
  • 60% of Medicaid or CHIP patients are pregnant women and children. Don’t call yourself Pro-Life and take away health benefits from pregnant women and born children.
  • 70% of Medicaid budget is spent on the elderly, people with disabilities, and people with mental illness.
  • 12 hospitals across the state will either close or go bankrupt. What’s that? It’s an emergency, and you have to get to the hospital immediately? Sorry, the hospital closed due to lack of funding.
  • Rates of opioid deaths are above national average. Losing Medicaid will mean many trying to free themselves from addiction will lose their chance to get treatment.

I have always heard a society is judged by how they treat the weakest and most vulnerable. The Bible over and over commanded the Israelites and Christians to care for the orphans and widows because they were the most at risk in that culture.

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause (Isa 1:17)

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation (Psa 68:5).

“‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen’ (Deut 27:19).

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (Jas 1:27).

You say you believe the Bible. Do you? Who are the most vulnerable in our society? The elderly? People in nursing homes? Recovering addicts? Unemployed veterans? Children? People with disabilities or mental illness? Anyone who is sick and can’t afford healthcare? These are our widows and orphans.

The worst thing about this proposal is they say we have to do this to save money and reduce the deficit, but really, all the savings are going to be spent in tax cuts for people already rich. That’s been their answer to everything. Cut vital benefits and services for the poor and middle class and give tax cuts to the wealthy. That has never worked, it has never produced a balanced budget, and it has never trickled down enough to make up for the losses. The rich get richer, and the sick suffer and die. Is that what a Christian nation does? Is that what Jesus would do? “And he healed all who were sick, except those who were too poor to pay for it.”

Historically, this nation has not done well in providing healthcare for the widow and orphan, metaphorically speaking. The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, attempted to move us toward better care for people who need it most. I know it has problems, but we could solve them if we had a mind to. So the question is do we want to provide quality health care for anyone who needs it, or do we want to follow a political agenda? What would Jesus do?

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