Universal Access Single Access Health Care

Universal Access Single Access Health Care

Last week at Universalist National Memorial Church I preached the importance of Universalism as a guiding theological principle. I emphasized that when we evangelize this message, the enemy is not Christianity, or atheism or any other religion, but something our founders called “partialism,” Part of humanity is saved, part of humanity has some ability or capacity to order around the other parts of humanity…

I mentioned that I live in the home territory of homegrown Universalism (as opposed to the Universalism that George de Benneville brought from the scaffolds of France, that James Relly and John Murray brought from the debtors’ prisons of England), we have a US Senator (not a UU) who calls repeatedly for Single Payer Universal Access Health Insurance for all Americans. The point, I said, is not how you feel about Universal Health Care, but the fact that he is not afraid to use the word.

In reality, as I am sure the congregation surmised, I strongly support Senator Sanders’s plan to simply expand Medicare to cover everyone.

And yes, it IS a religious principle. We UUs have been on record about this, through our General Assembly Resolution process, since the 1970s. So to advocate for it in this regard, let’s learn from our Universalist offshoot, the Latter Day Saints, and our modern-day offshoots, the radical individualists.

Here’s how the Latter Day Saints hand out salvation: they have high walls for getting in, but once you’re in, that community cares for you big time, with large financial outlays. They pay no clergy, but carefully choose the layfolk who understand that pastoral care costs money. Who manage that money and hand it out. And every Mormon understands that as you have received, at other times so shall you give. That is one reason they push private enterprise and profit: they want to take care of their own.

Therefore, since Congress shall make no law establishing a religion, if any individual or religion wishes to provide medical services, they are free to do so. However, at the moment they choose to be guided by their principles, they give up two rights: one, to monopolize any aspect of medical care in any community, and two, to receive government income for services they provide or receive.

In order to give every institution and individual the means to make a free choice about not using the government system of Universal Access Single Payer, every individual will have a day to read a detailed list of what they are giving up, including government reimbursement for any emergency service they receive unexpectedly. When they sign this contract, they receive a card — just like an insurance card — which informs any medical provider outside the system they chose — how to access their wages, bank accounts, retirement accounts and physical assets, such as their homes and houses.

There will, of course, be annual Open Enrollment periods, in which these folks can change their minds. Every contract to forego government insurance will be subject to the three-day Think It Over rule.

Every child is automatically enrolled in Single Payer Universal Access for life-threatening medical emergencies. Every adult will sign as an individual; even two spouses in the same marriage.

The nice thing is that this plan takes state budgets and legislatures out of the picture. And it doesn’t take out private insurance companies, who want to cherry pick their customers and give them more. But it does make clear that when it comes to health insurance, as in government, we shall be what Theodore Parker described for us: of the people, by the people, for the people.

Another Way of Looking at the Trayvon Martin Case

All week I’ve been getting hooted off the web over at Facebook for saying that there is more than one way to read the Trayvon Martin killing case. I do not dispute some of the essential issues or demands. It is clear that he set off George Zimmerman just by Walking While Black, and that the police department should be investigating this without ceasing. George Zimmerman should already be under arrest, because he clearly did not behave like a person under fear. He pursued and killed a helpless victim.

But I’m not hearing that pursuit as others are hearing it. I’m flashing back to a schizophrenic family member who pursued another family member, for no apparent reason, for such a long time that restraining orders were necessary, and state borders were involved. That pursuer had a hard-core commitment to safety in his family, but the danger was all in his head. A real danger, calling for guns and vigilance.

Misinterpretation of neurological issues has serious implications for everyone.  Someone who should have been evaluated after assaulting a police officer and implementing a lifestyle of hyper-vigilance without boundaries was released because for some folks, “Yeah, it can look pretty scary around here.”

That’s the racist — not the person with neurological challenges, but the folks who disregard the person with the condition, one way or another, in favor of their favorite script about racism. I do believe that Zimmerman should have been arrested before or should be arrested now. But when he is, I would like to see a full and unbiased neurological evaluation.

And I would like a society with enough flexibility, enough commitment to scientific significance, to deal with what the scientists have to say.

Here’s what a determination of mental illness would not do:

It would not end Zimmerman’s legal liability: I believe in “Guilty but Not Mentally Incompetent.”

It would not lessen the severity of his sentence, other than removing the possibility of a death sentence. It appalls me that the man who shot James Brady and Ronald Reagan gets out from time to time, and possibly for good. If you’re cured, you’re ready to serve the remainder of your life sentence.

It would remind us all that when guns get into the wrong hands, innocent people die and the shooters often victimize themselves.

It would remind us that anyone’s mental healthiness is everyone’s mental healthiness.

It Never Gets Old

It Never Gets Old

Looking across the top of Shelburn, Vermont, over Lake Champlain and across to New York. Lynne and I hiked to the top of a small hill today, strong and lively after lunch, to sit on a bench and enjoy the view. It’s not yet this green, but the rest is accurate.

When She’s Sleeping…

Medical science has reduced the burden of Lynne’s Huntington’s Disease expressions when she’s awake and active. One medication lets her sit still, stand with balance, walk freely, etc. This is more than cosmetic, as muscle spasms in throat and heart are major killers in the HD collection. Other meds manage the anxiety and depression which still sends so many folks suffering with HD into isolation or suicide. And a return of capabilities further lessens these negative tendencies. All of this gives joy to those who love a person with HD, and hope to the families who know it inhabits their genetic profile.

But a heavy medication life means lots of extra sleep. When she’s up and doing, her body is a war zone between the disease on the one hand, and her intentions and her medication allies on the other. For the first year, she chose the “one quality event a day” pattern, but lately, she’s been pushing herself to stay awake all day on days which have scheduled quality time. That means on other days she sleeps around the clock.

It’s easier for me to do other things on days of getting up and taking naps. These days when she sleeps all day scare the hell out of me. My intellect observes that this is high quality sleep, with lots of deep stillness. What a joyful experience for her body, to be free of the chorea. She is putting weight back on after last year’s crisis, and one reason insurance buys the incredibly expensive anti-chorea medication is precisely this, to let the body absorb more calories than it burns. Spiraling weight-loss is another way HD kills, and it turns out to be a side-effect of the chorea, rather than part of the digestive tract anomalies, what a boon.

But as good as this deep sleep is for her, it scares the hell out of my loving heart. All day long I hover nearby, searching compulsively for the expansion and contraction of life in and out of her beautiful torso. At the depths of her stillness, I sneek little pulse-checks on her outstretched wrist, as lightly as my anxious fingers can manage.

This anxiety completely saps my ability to focus on reflective writing and ministry when she’s sleeping. There, I’ve said it. Am I sharing the joy of her body’s good day of healing? Yes. Am I unable to delegate my hopes to the bottles rattling through that drawer of her dresser and head comfortably for my computer? Yes again.

These are contradictory impulses that totally rule whole days of my life, week after week. And I can’t even figure out what kind of goal I should have for resolving the tension.