When It Comes to Health Care, Put Families First
Faith in Action, formerly PICO National Network, believes our elected leaders should put families first and guarantee everyone in our country access to quality, affordable healthcare. This means extending health coverage to everyone regardless of age, immigration status, language, race, ethnicity, gender or geography. This can be done by lowering costs, improving quality and building on the existing pillars of our health care system, including Medicaid and Medicare.
The health coverage must be comprehensive to meet the needs of real people and families, and must include protections and resources to make sure care is truly accessible without barriers or discrimination.
We believe healthcare is not a commodity, but a public good and a fundamental human right. Our faith implores us to take care of the least of us. As Proverbs 22:22 advises, “Don’t take advantage of the poor just because you can; don’t take advantage of those who stand helpless in court.”
The United States, which is among the wealthiest nations in the world, should join every other developed country in providing universal health care to all of its residents so that all families have a fair opportunity to thrive.
We need a health care system that specifically addresses the persistent and dangerous health disparities that have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. This contributes to the structural racial inequity that pervades our society. A renewed and explicit commitment to eradicating disparities in health care creates a path toward dismantling the racism pervading every aspect of our lives in the United States. It’s the first step toward realizing equality and justice for all.
Faith in Action believes there are many possible paths toward achieving universal guaranteed coverage for everyone. All of them require a robust government role that ensures a health care culture grounded in medically accurate information and a delivery system that responds to the needs of all people.
We support expanding public programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We also support reforms such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which in part created rules for insurance companies that protect consumers, stabilize costs and expand coverage.
Building a better health care system means putting people before profit instead of privatizing vital programs such as Medicaid and CHIP. Elected officials should control health care costs by limiting profit among the insurance, pharmaceutical and other stakeholders in the health industry that too often gouge patients financially to drive profits.
We also support investing in health care employees, fairly compensating them and guaranteeing they have fair treatment on the job. This includes protecting their right to unionize and ensuring they reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
Such a health care system would guarantee that families such as Nakiya Wakes, a single mother of two children in Flint, Mich., have the same opportunities to thrive that those with health care coverage have.
‘I’m far from rich’
Wakes, 42, has an 18-year-old daughter who has epilepsy and a 9-year-old son diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The family is eligible for Medicaid, which provides health coverage to millions of U.S. residents, including eligible adults with low or no incomes, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities.
But the Wakes family and countless others frequently face the possibility of losing their health benefits, most recently as a result of a new federal tax law supported by the Republican-majority House and Senate and President Trump.
The Wakes family’s care includes treatment for health challenges that Nakiya Wakes said resulted in part from Michigan’s Flint water crisis, first reported in 2014 when health officials noted higher-than-normal lead levels in homes throughout Flint.
Wakes, an administrative assistant at Michigan Faith in Action, a Faith in Action federation, moved to Flint with her children in 2013. Subsequently, medical studies concluded that the lack of a water treatment known as orthophosphate was a major contributing factor that resulted in lead contamination in the Flint water supply.
“I really don’t have the money to leave, or I would have been gone,” Wakes said. If the federal or Michigan’s government decreases the family’s Medicaid benefits, she that would jeopardize her family’s health even more. “If they take Medicaid away, we won’t have medical or mental health care,” she said. “We won’t have anything.”