By Sam Burnham
Right now, at this very moment, bureaucrats are discussing the future of healthcare policy in this nation. They are debating the merits and drawbacks of a sort of Frankenstein's Monster that we have created - a hybrid of big business and big government that is responsible for funding all of our well-being.
Anyone who has ever been denied coverage for a covered treatment knows the danger of trusting a large corporation with your health. Anyone who has been following the tragic story of young Charlie Gard knows the danger of entrusting the government with our health. Considering how much each of these relies on the other and how deep they are in each other's pocket, we're playing with a ticking time bomb and we're all going to lose.
There is a tendency on the Left to look to government and higher taxes to find all of the answers to every question in the central government. There is a similar tendency on the Right to allow the market to handle everything. But we find time and again that neither of these institutions ever seem to have acceptable answers to the major social issues of our time. Homelessness, healthcare, relief for the poor, education, none of these seem to improve no matter how much tax money or tax credits for businesses we throw at them. And yet we keep trying the same things over and over.
We deal so much with community here. Community is the small answer to so many huge problems. My personal doctor is in my community. I can walk to his office in a few minutes of leisurely stroll. There is a doctor, a nurse practitioner, and several nurses. But this is not a true private practice. It is incorporated with a regional hospital. While that is good that it is included in a network that includes specialists and a major medical center, it's not really part of the community. It doesn't allow my doctor to be one of those people that Mr. Rogers would include as "in your neighborhood." There is a corporation, complete with all standards and requirements, pages of paperwork each visit, and to send bills from some far off place to remind me that I owe money that my big corporate insurance company isn't going to pay because my lofty deductible still has not been met.
There is also, no fewer than a dozen churches within a similar distance to my home. They all have a tax-exempt status. They are fairly involved in our community, especially when they think it might draw the kind of attention that would result in higher attendance on Sundays. What I want to address here is the role that tax exempt organizations, including churches, can play in this. Few of the churches in my community are what I'd call extravagant. But there are many in the area as a whole that are quite extravagant. If instead of entrusting our healthcare services to the government, and big businesses, why shouldn't we tie the tax exempt status of these organizations to their level of investment in the community? As we see huge dining areas, acres of parking lots, arena-style worship centers, health club style gymnasiums, electronic message boards, these organizations have resources. But are they charitable? Do they benefit the community at large? It's just a question.
What other ideas can we find in our communities to help answer this problem? It is time to quit listening to Washington and the insurance industry as they are not interested in our well being. Neither of them are. We need to put our minds together and find ways to bypass corporate hospitals, insurance companies, and big government. The answers will be small and there will be many of them. Send us some feedback. Think locally, act locally.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire