One of the greatest economic and moral issues we face is how to expand health insurance to the 45 million Americans who go without. Churches and other religious bodies have actively worked for universal health care. The Social Creed adopted in 2007 by the National Council of Churches USA calls for the church body to work for "high quality public education for all and universal, affordable and accessible healthcare."
It turns out that John McCain's perscription for health care reform would cause more problems than it would fix. The New York Times reports:
Senator John McCain’s top domestic policy adviser, former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, recently said in a conference call with reporters that Mr. McCain’s health care proposal would “put 25 to 30 million individuals out of the ranks of the uninsured, into the ranks of the insured.” In an article released Tuesday, a panel of prominent health economists concludes that Mr. Holtz-Eakin’s projection is off by, well, 25 to 30 million.
The article, published in the journal Health Affairs, argues that “initially there would be no real change in the number of people covered as a result of the McCain plan.” After a short-term reduction of 1 million in the number of people without coverage, the number of uninsured would increase by 5 million after five years, the authors predict. There are currently 45 million people without insurance, or 15 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau.
Mr. McCain’s plan is designed to create greater equity between the group and individual insurance markets. He would end the exclusion of employer-provided health benefits from federal income taxes, an advantage not enjoyed by those who buy insurance on their own, and replace it with health care tax credits of $2,500 per individual and $5,000 per family.
That, the McCain campaign asserts, would drive more people into the individual market, fomenting competition, reducing premiums and discouraging consumers from buying more coverage than they need or can afford. The economists wrote that many “people are likely to have far less generous policies than those they have today.”
The NYT further reports that Barack Obama's plan would "reduce the number of uninsured by 18 million in 2009 and by 34 million in 2018, according to the Urban Institute/Brookings Institution report." That would be a huge leap forward - a huge leap forward - but our churches need to keep pressing for full coverage.