Pondering Real Stories about the Need for Health Care Reform

I am a news junkie. I like to get news from any source available. My days of watching TV dramas are gone and replaced with cable news shows. When the last talk radio station in Dodge City changed to music I had to get satellite radio. My entry into Facebook has not been so much about creating relationships as it has been about learning what other people are doing and talking about. But my favorite place for news is Twitter. Now, almost every second of every day someone is giving me a new piece of news. I have a broad range of “tweeps” I follow to make sure that I receive many perspectives.

I have two particular interests. I am very interested in politics and the human behavior of politics. I follow all my representatives in congress and in the state legislature. I follow the president and vice president. I follow all the primary news sources and all the US and Kansas governmental agencies I can. I do not follow candidate sites or individual reporters. I am also very interested in the social teaching of the Catholic Church. I find the breadth and depth of that teaching fascinating and it is amazing to watch the conversations and the many ways that teaching is addressed.

One would think that I spend all my time on Twitter. I don’t, but because my Twitter feed is on my phone I can take a couple a minutes here and there throughout the day to see if there is anything that I just have to know about. I have an “app” to save those things that I need to look at later.

There are few times that I just have to stop and read. And there are few “tweeps” that I begin to wonder about when I haven’t seen their avatar come by for a while. That happened to me this week. Someone re-tweeted a message from Busted Halo--an online magazine sponsored by the Paulists and written by young people for young people. Their name and focus of interest was intriguing so I added them to my "follow" list.

A couple of days later a copy of The Catholic Worker arrived at the office and as I began to thumb through, a reprinted article from Busted Halo jumped out at me. It was written by a young woman, Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft, who was telling the story of finding her family without health insurance to cover the birth of their second child. She wrote about how she and her husband, despite their efforts to make all the right decisions for their family, found themselves without maternity coverage on their health plan. She wrote about how she learned that many women in this country are in the same situation. She wrote about the need for health care reform, not only for her situation, but for the
many other women in the same situation.

I was particularly struck by the amount of work she went to in an effort to learn the issues. Her loyalty to the Catholic Church appeared to drive much of that work, leaving her readers with one of the best explanations of the church’s position on health care reform that I have read. She highlighted three issues that prevented the US Bishops from supporting the Affordable Care Act:

  • The language in the legislation does not specifically state that no government funding will go toward paying for elective abortions.
  • It excludes immigrants
  • Does not have specific language protecting the consciences of doctors and institution from refusing services they believe to be morally wrong.

In a similar story, Anita Maling also shares in the video below how her family struggled with gaps in health care after her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. On the other hand, Anita expresses relief; with the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, her daughter cannot be denied health insurance because of her pre-existing condition.

Statistics and studies can tell one story but nothing is quite as powerful as the true, touching accounts given by real families working to stay healthy and contribute to our country. Click here for additional stories featuring a young adult, a senior and a small business owner. According to the Catholic Health Association, the new health care reform act is already assisting individuals and families all over the country.

In the end, Vanessa and Anita are both right. We need health care reform. We need to meet the responsibility of our social teaching as described by Archbishop Dolan: “basic health care for all is a moral imperative.” The archbishop’s statement and the concerns with the passed legislation reminds us that we still have work to do to meet both obligations. I appreciate the reminder and the opportunity to ponder what came from my new source of news at Busted Halo, and I pause a little more than most when a new tweet comes my way.

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