Separatists sign up

State health care has more good to offer than bad

Jun 5, 2017 by

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A generation after Old Colony Mennonites in Canada followed the promise of less government interference to Mexico, local pharmacy operator Walter Schmiedehaus detailed colony culture for a 1947 issue of Mennonite Life.

Colonies were self-sufficient. Colonists and outsiders at Cuauhtémoc used dentists, physicians, ambulance outfits, chiropractors and well-equipped dispensaries. Among Alpenkräuter and other remedies, the shops offered “Dr. Bell’s horse medicine,” he wrote, “which is supposed to be agreeable to men as well as to horses.”

Somewhere along the way, Dr. Bell’s elixir became either too expensive or too ineffective. Seventy years later, about 2,500 descendants of Manitoba Colony’s separatist founders signed up for Mexico’s federal health insurance program (subscribe to see story on page 2).

Cautious of conformity with worldly matters, they still value separation of church and state. But they also value a good deal, and the benefits outweigh the costs.

Most of their Old Colony counterparts in Canada also are fine with state coverage. Some have made the return migration specifically for provincial health insurance and services.

If it’s good enough for people who define themselves by their distance from worldly things, it’s suitable for far more mainstream Anabaptists in the United States.

Thus far, every Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act has focused on cutting taxes for the wealthy and raising premiums for sick, poor and older people. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the proposed American Health Care Act would result in 23 million more people without health insurance than under current law. The CBO’s report said policies would offer fewer benefits and sicker people would be priced out of the market.

There is no verse in the Bible that makes slashing a rich person’s taxes a moral good. “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). It doesn’t take hermeneutical gymnastics to make the scriptural case for affordable and accessible medical care.

Single-payer health insurance programs, typically offered by a governmental entity, are not without shortcomings. But the act of overlooking the many greater benefits is one of self-inflicted sabotage.


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