Letter: Health care as responsibility
I lived in Massachusetts when we achieved universal health care under Governor Romney. It wasn’t perfect, but I could sleep easier at night when health care for all became the responsibility of the people. As a minister and as someone who served on the boards of shelter and low-income housing agencies, as well as the chair of a food pantry initiative, I knew first-hand the stories of how people get into trouble financially. Many of the biggest financial problems begin with health crises where there is little or no health insurance.
Some people have worried about what the health care act put forth by Obama, and altered, then passed by Congress, will mean to them. The Massachusetts law went much further in terms of providing the highest possible insurance for the poor, but is otherwise quite similar. I can say that it seemed to be wonderful for the state.
For those of us fortunate enough to have health insurance, little changed except we were able to keep our young adults on our policies a few critical years longer. For those who were struggling financially, a huge weight was lifted. Doctors and hospitals were very supportive, and improved health care means improved health, benefitting the whole society. There was a small initial protest from Catholic hospitals on the contraceptive issue, but it was over quickly and Catholics were among the most eager to incarnate their "preferential option for the poor." I never noticed any increased tax burden. It turns out what’s really expensive is the inefficient way we use our emergency rooms as the health care system for the poor. Finally, it was good business, since people want to live and do business in a state where health care is guaranteed. Massachusetts sailed through the great recession, having a huge advantage. For example, some people literally did not lose their homes or otherwise sink financially because they had health care, no matter what.
I don’t know why Mitt Romney has backed away from this accomplishment. He was a liberal Republican governor on many issues, but now I have a hard time figuring out what his real values are. If he tries to repeal the health care act, as he has said, I believe it will bring increased suffering for many. We need universal health care.
I support President Obama and encourage others to vote for him.
Rev. Kathy Duhon