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.