Jesus Meets the Republican Party

by , posted on Sunday, July 8th, 2012 at 7:00 am

It was early in the morning and I was late for an appointment. But it was my brother calling, so I answered my cell.

“Hey Ellen,” he said, “You know that piece you wrote about Hultgren being unconcerned about all those people who don’t have medical insurance?”

“Well, yeah,” I said. “The one where the man asked Hultgren why he opted to take federal health insurance for himself and his family, but didn’t want the rest of us to have it?”

“Yeah, that one,” he responded. “I sent that piece to my neighbor who voted for Hultgren because he is a Christian. I thought she would see this as the betrayal of Christian morals it actually is.”

“But she didn’t see it that way, Ellen. I don’t get it,” he continued. “Didn’t we learn the Golden Rule? You know, do onto others as you would have them do onto you?”

“Or how about this one—-‘whatever you do to the least among you, you do also to me’? What about that?” he asked, really puzzled this time.

Jimmy (I can’t help calling him that–he is my younger brother after all) comes to me with some of the most beautiful and heartfelt questions.

It’s a tough question, isn’t it? How can we see innocent people dying from lack of medical care and deny them insurance coverage? Mothers. Fathers. Children. Do we pretend they don’t exist? Or perhaps look the other way? Do we find another way to explain it so we don’t have to put ourselves out there to remedy the situation? Do we look for another way, perhaps, to justify our own lack of compassion? Certainly the popular mantra, “What would Jesus do?” presents a conflict.

Jimmy went on to say his neighbor couldn’t answer him about why she believes it is okay for Hultgren, within his stated Christian religious belief system, to deny innocents medical insurance coverage. She clearly had no conflict with the lack of coverage for these people, and with Hultgren’s apparent lack of concern.

I was so troubled by Jimmy’s questions that I contacted Janice, an old college friend who had become a psychotherapist. I told her some of the following facts about Obamacare. (

  • All insurance companies must provide medical insurance comparable to Obamacare insurance. This means that tactics insurance companies have used in the past to reduce or eliminate insurance benefits for expensive, sick people will no longer be legal.
  • All preventative care is free on all insurance plans—-this means no co-pays and no deductibles.
  • No one can be dropped due to illness and no one can be denied coverage due to preexisting conditions. No one’s coverage can be limited over his lifetime. Children can stay on their parent’s policy until they reach age 26.
  • Medicaid will be reformed and expanded to cover more people—-an estimated 32 million more people will have insurance that are currently without coverage. That means people without jobs will be covered.
  • Employers will get tax credits to help offset their insurance expense for employees.
  • Then I gave her the financial information about how the program will be funded. ( by Kimberly Amadeo—Congressional Budget Office Report and Obamacare Summary)

  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over ten years, the deficit will be reduced by $143 billion. That’s billion.
  • Drug companies will be charged more to help cover the “doughnut hole” in Medicare Prescription Drug Part D Benefits. (Oh my, how do you think those big drug companies feel about this one?)
  • Medicare reimbursements to hospitals will be reduced by 21% due to hospitals’ increased reimbursements coming from patients who will have medical insurance.
  • By 2018, “Cadillac” insurance plans will pay a small tax on plans worth over $27,500 for families.
  • Starting in 2013, taxes will be raised for high-income individuals making more than $200,000 and for families making more than $250,000 yearly. This is up from the current 1.45% tax to 2.35%-3.8%, depending upon the tax category.
  • By 2014, members of Congress will be mandated to get their health insurance from the same sources as their constituents rather then from the government-provided insurance they receive now. (Wow, does that mean we will finally have equal insurance coverage?)
  • Obamacare requires insurance companies spend at least 80% of premium payments on medical services—rather than for CEO salaries, bonuses, and advertising. If they spend less than that 80% on medical services, that money must be refunded to their customers. (I could hardly believe this one when I read it. Insurance company CEOs having their right to rob from customers, give themselves big bonuses, being limited?!)
  • “How anyone of reasonable heart and mind can be against covering innocents for medical problems is a puzzle,” I told Janice. “Especially when it makes such financial sense.”

    “Well,” Janice began, “That’s just the issue. On some level, they tell themselves these unfortunate people are not innocent, that they have in some way created their lack of medical coverage and their own medical misfortunes.”

    “It’s a clear ‘blame the victim’ mentality,” she went on. “This is a defense against fear. It helps to remove them from their own fear of identifying with another’s misfortunes. You know,” she said, “the old–‘it can’t happen to me, I’m better than that’?”

    “Okay,” I said. “So does that mean we have to let them off the hook because they are so fearful they can’t see truth in the midst of their blame?”

    “Oh no,” she very quickly replied, clearly having already anticipated my question. “It’s not about ‘can’t’ see the truth, it’s about ‘won’t’ see the truth. It ends up being a denial of one’s personal responsibility to one’s self. It truly is about an unwillingness to have the courage to challenge inconsistencies in one’s beliefs. It’s about unwillingness to confront one’s own inner demons.”

    “You cannot hold the two beliefs together—one of knowing that millions of people are literally dying from lack of medical coverage along with the Christian belief of Jesus’s commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself,” she said, really going into teaching mode now. “They are incompatible.”

    “So what should people do?” I asked, thinking we have no solution.

    “They need to have the courage to look at facts, rather than the spin of their political party or the spin of selfish and fearful beliefs that separate them from compassion for their fellow man,” she said. “And that can be hard. It’s really a hero’s journey. It’s a big task to confront your own inner demons.”

    “And what about Hultgren? Where does he fit with this fear/courage blame the victim dynamic?”

    “Well, he’s much easier, I think,” she responded after a long pause. “He’s a politician and calls himself, I hear, a Christian. But I don’t know what’s in his heart. However, we do have his voting record, his statements, and his funding records. Don’t we?”

    Between July 2009 and June 2011, Hultgren took $227,600 from the financial/insurance industry. Given the restrictions Obamacare places upon the insurance industry, I am sure the industry would like to eliminate the plan. Hultgren is doing all he can to accomplish that, despite the very real needs of human beings in his district.

    Hultgren tried to frighten us by telling us that we surely didn’t want to have government ‘bureaucratic’ health insurance. Hear fear-mongering here? It’s good enough for him, but not for us. Shame on him.

    Then he tried to tell us that those who don’t have insurance probably don’t have jobs. Hear a ‘blaming the victim’ here? Shame on him.

    He looks to be using the very effective tactic of political spin and fostering people’s fears in order to stay in the good graces of his insurance company contributors. Shame, not courage, here.

    The problem is even bigger than Hultgren, however. He isn’t the only one in our political system who uses fear and blaming the victim to foster agendas favorable to large donors and corporations. But with the Republican Party it’s endemic. It’s been a David and Goliath battle—with the innocents needing insurance being David and the insurance industry and Republican Party being Goliath.

    Hultren embodies the traditional Republican mantra right now. The entire Republican Party is showing a cowardice and hatred unseen in the history of this country. Pandering to peoples’ fears for political gain. Shame on them all.


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