Call To Action Healthcare By TBT

We are doing this because we think Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and Peter Maurin would have liked it. They were action people who did not think religious people ought to be passing the buck. They passed what money they got to someone who needed it more. So, when it comes to health care, why do we have to make it so hard, and so much like a duty of the powerful and the rich. In most cases, what most of us need is some medical advice, some minor repairs, and a place in the neighborhood where a doctor and a nurse can do those kinds of things. It is not very complicated and not very expensive. In fact, 2,000 of us in any neighborhood could chip in $40 a month and pay the salaries of a physician and a nurse and the overhead of the clinic. That clinic could take care of 3,000 to 4,000 people a year. It would not be free health care, but as far as the people in the neighborhood are concerned, it would be so reasonable as to seem free. I have heard people in England and Canada say that their health care is free. They mean that they voted to have the government take the $40 from them in taxes so that they would not have to pay a fee at the clinic and turn their doctor and nurse into a street vendor and a collection agency. They don’t want retail health care and we don’t want it either. We just can’t get the people we serve, the rich and powerful and the politicians that work for them, to let the riff-raff like us use the tax system to pay the salaries and overhead of the doctors and nurses. So, we need a “call to action,” like Merton used to say, to put our $40 together and hire doctors and nurses to work for us in each neighborhood that has 2,000 sane (or insane) people willing to donate to their own cause, in their own place, so that some 3,000 to 4,000 people can get good health care.

You will notice that there is no mention of insurance and no notion that you are buying health benefits for any particular person. Of course, the notion that you need those financial instruments (insurance and paid benefits) is what is wrong with solving the “health care crisis” in the first place. It’s Peter Maurin telling us we are just passing the buck. You hear people say, “We can’t take care of people in this neighborhood because we have no programs and no grants and no organization. We need a leader and a grant writer and they need a staff and they need to ask the doctors to volunteer and maybe we can get a nurse to work full time to take blood pressure and give shots. Then, we’d be on the way.” Those thoughts are a bunch of nonsense, but they are the backbone of our organized charities and public service health clinics. It is like using a machine gun to kill insects. Neither the instrument nor the target is right.

Doctors take home about $150,000 a year and play the roll of doctor, real estate manager, small employer of five people, accountant, billing person and collection agent. Is that what they really want to do for $150,000. If it is just about the money, then why complicate it with all the special knowledge and skills? Just be a retail merchant or run a small hot-dog stand in the Mall. As a hot-dog vendor you don’t have the government and the insurance companies checking your school credentials and lawsuits every year.

Don’t you think some of these very well trained men and women holding medical degrees would just like to take care of patients and make the same amount of money. Of course, those of us who have been passing the buck could help these folks who would like to be doctors and nurses instead of hot-dog vendors. We could pitch in $30 bucks each a month and rent a clinic and hire two people to take care of us and our friends and neighbors, even those who don’t have $30 bucks. It’s a “call to action,” a movement, and it doesn’t need a hotshot or big donor or any super plan. The people who throw in the money can also throw in a little labor to clean up the facilities and make and take a few phone calls. That way you won’t be building an empire that needs a grant from Uncle Sam or from the rich and powerful just to get some medical advice and a little loving care.

If the little communities come together in this little way, they may decide they can pitch in $135 a month and buy all the health care you can stand, even the miserable hospital care none of us want to go near. We would not know all about these costs except we have the information from several insurance companies on the actual cost of health care on thousands of people over the last ten years. It is not too hard to understand why the insurance tool doubles the medical cost just to pass the buck. Are we crazy? Can’t we just fix this now? There is no one keeping us from helping each other but the action we don’t take.

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