Health Care Reform Should Put Patients First, Not Bureaucrats

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of The Christian Post or its editors.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library, a spokesman and cohost of Kennedy Classics.

The House passed (217-213) a new bill to help repeal Obamacare last week, the American Health Care Act (the AHCA). It is said that President Trump's personal persuasion of many Congressmen helped this to pass. Now the ball goes to the Senate.

Ironically, Obamacare is officially known as the "Affordable Care Act." What an Orwellian title. Obamacare has literally made health care unaffordable for millions of Americans. Millions of Americans have seen both the costs of their premiums and their deductibles skyrocket.

In all attempts to reform our health care system, the focus, I think, should be on the patients and their doctors — not on government bureaucrats.

Recently, I interviewed on my radio show a medical doctor who served for several years as a Georgia representative in the U.S. Congress, Dr. Paul Broun. He introduced a bill that would have repealed Obamacare.

He told me that the need is to put "patients and doctors in charge of all of their health care decisions. We [need to] get the federal government out of setting policy, setting pricing, as well as get the mandates off of the health care system. All of those things cause the price to go up for everybody."

Dr. Broun likes the idea of providing tax incentives for those donating to medical clinics to help the poor, such as Mercy Clinic, a Christian-based group in what his former congressional district. He noted, "What that does is take money out of the hands of the bureaucrats and the politicians in Washington and puts it where it should be, and that is, taking care of folks that need the care." The bill also gave tax credits to doctors to see indigent patients.

On a personal note, because of his love for Jesus, Dr. Broun has given away hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of free care to indigent people. Ironically, a doctor like him might possibly get in trouble today because of government regulations. Broun told me, "If a doctor takes Medicare, and he gives away his services to a patient [e.g., a poor person who couldn't afford care], they could literally put the doctor in jail for seeing people for free, which is ... inane."

We have become so secularized today that we forget it was the Church that gave birth to the phenomenon of hospitals in the first place. Jesus Christ went around healing the sick, and Christians have sought to treat the sick ever since. But massive programs like Obamacare often shut out the church.

A major blessing of the bill the House of Representatives passed last Thursday is the defunding (at least for one year) of Planned Parenthood. Mat Staver of Liberty Council writes (5/4/17): "Planned Parenthood currently receives approximately $553 million in federal funding per year. For one year, the AHCA eliminates more than $390 million, or 80 percent, in annual federal funding to the largest abortion mill in the nation." The battle now will be to make sure that this provision remains in the version of the bill that makes it through the Senate.

Dr. David Stevens, the president of the Christian Medical and Dental Society, has had some great insights on health care reform in America. I interviewed him several years ago (2011) after Obamacare had passed but before it was implemented. What he said is just as relevant for today as back then.

He told me, "The biggest issue in health care is cost. We need health care reform, but we got the cart before the horse. To use another analogy; the patient is bleeding and instead of giving the patient blood we're actually causing the patient to bleed more with [Obamacare]. The big issue is cost and we're adding more cost to the system, things that we cannot afford....why can't people get health care insurance? Because it costs too much, so now we're going to increase the cost." And that indeed is what happened.

Stevens noted, "[C]ost is out of control and we've got to control costs but we have to do that in a compassionate and intelligent way."

He adds that Obamacare favors the "quality of life ethic" as opposed to the "sanctity of life ethic." Says Stevens, "Quality of life means: Is this person with a disability ... do they have a life worth living? Should we do this procedure, provide this medicine based upon their quality of life? Sanctity of life says, 'Life's worth is based upon the fact that you were created by God and that life is sacred' .... Those two things are in dire contrast and increasingly the whole area of quality of life is being used to make decisions concerning health care."

For now, it would appear that we are moving in the right direction in working to repeal Obamacare once and for all.

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is an on-air host/senior producer for D. James Kennedy Ministries. He has written/co-written 26 books, including The Book That Made America, Doubting Thomas (w/ Mark Beliles, on Jefferson), What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (w/ D. James Kennedy) & George Washington's Sacred Fire (w/ Peter Lillback). djameskennedy.org @newcombejerry