- June 25, 2020
Access to Healthcare for the Poor — What are Our Religious Responsibilities?
Accessto Healthcare for the Poor — What are Our ReligiousResponsibilities?
Accessto Healthcare for the Poor — What are Our ReligiousResponsibilities?
Theposition of healthcare in the current society is important. In part,its pivotal nature has been exemplified by the discussions thathealthcare is one of the critical factors of sustainable development.Indeed, the plausibility of such perspectives cannot be disputed.Poor healthcare will most likely be accompanied by adverse social andeconomic consequences that would subvert the efforts of sustainabledevelopments. Besides, healthcare is also justified to be importanton the humanitarian ground. The advocacy of such thesis is manifestedin the universal declaration of human rights, which considershealthcare as a fundamental human right, and calls upon nations tostrive and fulfill this obligation.
Inrecognizing the position of health, various countries are acceding bytaking various actions to promote healthcare and the well-being ofits subjects. In doing so, several countries have even gone furtherto institute reforms that allow the government to take full charge ofhealthcare, an arrangement that is designed to allow the persons withlow income to be assured of free healthcare access funded by taxsystems. Obama care program is one of the elaborate examples ofsystems in which the government is responsible for healthcare.Ideally, healthcare taxes are proportionately levied on the wageearners depending on their income, and the funds are channeled tosupport healthcare for all, including those in with no income and whocannot contribute.
Whilethese programs have been popularly received, they have also elicitedquestions touching on its ethical premises. Questions have beenparticularly raised concerning the legitimacy of the government oftaxing to guarantee healthcare for the poor and vulnerable group.This paper discusses the question of the legitimacy of thegovernment-responsible healthcare. It argues that while the issuesufficiently qualifies to be conceived as a subject of ethicaldilemma, ensuring free access of healthcare for the poor isparticularly justifiable from various moral grounds, especially thereligious teaching and the Franciscan ethics.
Alook at the bible reveals various perspectives calling upon thesociety to exercise responsibility in helping the poor and thevulnerable.
Forinstance, Cone (2010) has observed that Exodus, Leviticus, andDeuteronomy use different terms, the ‘ebyon’, ‘ani’ and ‘dal’to refer to the poor and potentially demonstrate the relationshipbetween health and poverty. This view is particularly seen when thefarmers are called upon to desist from harvesting all their grains tothe edge of the farm and allow the poor to benefit from the remnantsbecause they do not have the land to grown their own.
Therealso happens to be a strong ethical reason for the society to bealways concerned about assisting the needy in Deuteronomy chapter 10(verse 12-22), wherein God calls upon the people [the society] toalways act in show of love to the strangers and people around thembecause He created them with love, too. In essence, this can be seenas a strong imperative for which God requires he follows to establisha place that is inclusive for all the people, including those who arevoiceless or have limited power, resources, and privileges.
Richardson(1999) observes that, throughout their scripts, the Hebrew writersconsidered that any mistreatment of the poor or actions that worsentheir conditions would attract stiff penalties from God. Based onsuch writings, it is clear that the poor have the right to be treatedgenerously and kindly, regardless of whether the state of povertyresults from their actions or the inherent social inequities.
James,in Chapter 2, verse 11, calls upon the society to use action-basedfaith to help the persons under in oppression, requiring people toshow love and compassion for the marginalized, vulnerable, weak andthe poor. In other words, James’ call cannot be perceived as apassive one, but the kind that denounces any form of cruelty andviolence leveled against the poor. As Fogel and Rivera (2003) note,James happens to use different forms of terms to describe the poor,including the ‘ptochoes’ (as can be seen in chapter 2, verse 2),and ‘tapeinos’ (see chapter 1, verse 9), advocating for theinterests of the poor and the marginalized persons. In this regard,it is clear that all the followers are obligated to provide fairtreatment to the poor, with love, respect, kindness, and generosity.
InChapter 14, verse 7 of Mark, Jesus is quoted to have said that thepoor will always be part of the society, calling upon the followersto partake necessary decisions to assist them. Besides, Jesuspreached about giving to the poor, considering it as a virtue ofexercising kindness. This message appears in Mark Chapter 10 verse21, and Luke Chapter 18 verse 22. Besides, in many cases, Jesus wouldassociate with outcasts and the poor, yet he also strove to treat allpersons with respect, compassion, healing all those who came to himasking for help.
Italso appears that giving donations that are directly proportionate toones’ income is not a confused pretext. This position is seen inMark chapter 12, in verse 43, when Jesus commends the poor widow forher action of giving offering out of her poverty as more valuablethan the generous donation received from the rich, and this wasbecause their contributions were disproportionally very little. Thisposition might, in other words, justify the need for imposing hightaxes on proportionate to wage earners income to benefit the society.
Jesus,the manifestation of God, would proclaim good news for the poorpeople, as well as the oppressed. Cone (2010), in expounding on thesignificance of such actions argues that Jesus Christ was born andraised at the time in which poverty was a common social problem. God,as the creator of all persons, he chose to distance himself frompower and riches, emphasize the importance of humanity, and identifywith the poor by living among the poor and preaching the recognitionof their interests. The author gives various examples of thisevidence. Jesus was poor and selfless, he was homeless, he becamemisunderstood and eventually persecuted. He identified himself withthe social misfit groups, and this is seen when he shared a meal withthe tax collectors and expressed compassion for the poor, which showsthat Jesus loved the poor.
Mathew,in Chapter 23 (verse 1), emphasizes the need for the society tostrive in caring for the needs of the poor by giving alms anddenounced any form of oppression directed at the marginalized andvulnerable persons. Fogel and Rivera (2003) note that the book ofMathew comprises of various references made to the poor people orsuffering from the adverse social and economic issues. Based on suchreferences, Jesus could be particularly seen as an advocate for therights of the poor. Jesus was always associated with the poor, whichimplies that the followers should also do the same.
Lukehas frequently used the term ‘ptochos’ to highlight his concernfor the poor and the destitute people. Luke, as a physician, preachedabout the miracles of healing performed by Jesus and lays emphasis onhow compassionate Jesus was to the sick, the poor and the oppressed.Besides, Richardson (1999) observes that the Luke repeatedly used theword ‘chreia’ to refer to the needs or wants. The author furthernotes that, in fact, the message of the preachers of the earlychurches was mainly about helping the poor. If only, the criterion ofselecting the deacons was based on their capability to serve thepoor, including the widows, the needy, and the orphan, withselflessness. Considering the many references that are made on theneed of assisting the poor, it becomes apparent that part of theobligations of the followers of Christian teaching of thecontemporary society is to help the needy.
Luke’swritings happen to be relatively more focused on teaching aboutcompassion, kindness, and respect for the self and other people,expressing the concerns of the poor, yet Paul preaches against anyform of aggression directed at the poor people. He urges thefollowers to exercise gratitude for the people. In Hebrew, thewriters put emphases on the need for the structure of the church tobe streamlined so that it can also help the needy. The attitudetowards the homeless needed to be a brotherly kind. Both the NewTestament and the Old Testament encourage the followers to follow thefootsteps of Jesus Christ. There is no limit as to the extent ofwhich the society should identify themselves with the poor. Thispoint might be argued as implying that even supporting the freeaccess of the poor to healthcare is justifiable.
Franciscanvalues are aimed at caring for all forms of creation, taking allcreatures, especially human beings, as sisters and brothers. TheFranciscan values lay emphasis on the need to observe the dignity ofall the humans in the society. Franciscan values acknowledge the factthat human beings were created in the image, as well as the likenessof God. Furthermore, human beings are a representation of God’sTrinity thus, they are essential to the fulfillment of therelationship with God, as well as the community, as opposed toindividualism way of living. The Franciscan values are founded on theacknowledgment that human life is sacred hence, human beings arededicated to the consistent life ethics. This view is founded on theperspective that since life is the first gift that is offered by Godto human beings. Franciscan values call upon the human society toobserve respect for the life of human beings. The values reinforcethe need for its followers to consider life as fragile and offersupport to vulnerable persons within the society. Their relevancealso touches on the need for human beings to show respect to eventhose who are in opposition or are in the disagreements (Nairn,2003).
Franciscanvalues call upon human society to show respect for the poor people,as well as those who are vulnerable to the society. Thus, the humansociety should always be considerate of the needs of such groups ofpeople, in all actions to be undertaken. Additionally, the Franciscanvalues call upon those who embrace them to consider themselves as theheralds of reconciliation and peace, as well as exerciserelationships based on justice. In this regard, Franciscan values canbe considered as those that lay emphasis on the need for human beingsto be considerate of other human beings and act in a manner thatreflects justice and respect (Nairn, 2003).
Kohlbergmodel offers six stages followed by human beings, on the course oftheir moral development. These stages are also divisible intopre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional stages. Themodel asserts that mature persons, those in the post-conventionalstages, need to exhibit desirable levels of morality in for thecommon good. The post-conventional stage, which is often referred toas the level of principles, is characterized by the classificationsof people as different entities from the society. Here, it isexpected that individuals in this stage consider their perspectivesas that which precedes the values of the society. Thus, individualsin this stage are likely to disobey most of the societal principlesthat do not conform to theirs. Persons in this stage are guided bytheir own abstract principles about what constitutes right and wrong,which add up to liberty, justice, and human rights. For instance,laws should only consider valid if they foster justice and fairness,considering that the commitment pertaining to justice bears theobligation for the laws that are unjust to be disobeyed. This stageinvolves individual imagination of what would be done when one was inthe shoes of another person. The resultant consensus is what woulddetermine the actions to be undertaken. In this regard, an idealperson who is in the post-conventional stage should be capable ofexhibiting the morality and ethics, characterized by the ability toconsider the interest of the interests and values of other people inthe society (Nairn, 2003).
Thereare various ethical dilemmas in the professional setting, as well asin the business setting that can be effectively resolved by theKohlberg and the Franciscan values. For instance, in the businessenvironment, the subject of whether and when a business corporationshould embrace social responsibility and ethics is often regarded asa dilemma (Richardson, 1999). For firms that are picking fromscratch, upholding ethics and social responsibilities comes withvarious implications such as business collapse, considering thatcorporate social responsibility comes with expenses. At the sametime, business owners are concerned about pursuing their interests ofmaking profits. At this point, Franciscan values would beparticularly appropriate in helping resolve the dilemma.
Simplyput, Franciscan values would rule that all activities, includingbusiness practices, aimed at caring for all forms of creation, takingall creatures, especially human beings, as sisters and brothers. Thiswould touch on the need to place the interests of the society aheadof the individual interests. As such, this also addresses the need toconserve the environment as a way of respecting all the creatureswithin it. Furthermore, professional setting is not spared ofcultural dilemma and various workplace conflicts. Some of theconflicts often turn out challenging. Such issues cannot only beeffectively resolved by the Franciscan values, but also theimperatives underlying the Kohlberg’s model (Nairn, 2003).
Itis worth noting that free healthcare access for the poor has beenwithout criticisms.Inparticular, free healthcare applied in a professional setup and thegeneral labor industry can demoralize professionals who believe thathard work pays. Besides, the social welfare principle can have anadverse negative influence on some individuals by encouraging laxity.In the case of the Obama healthcare program, some people might bereluctant to have their personal medical insurance covers becauseothers are already contributing towards the scheme. However, thereligious and Franciscan ethics standpoint does not consider thisview. All it urges is assisting the poor.
Inconclusion, the aim of this paper has been to discuss the question ofthe legitimacy of the government-responsible healthcare. It hassuccessfully argued that, while the issue sufficiently qualifies tobe conceived as a subject of ethical dilemma, ensuring a free accessof healthcare for the poor is particularly justifiable from variousethical grounds, especially the religious teaching and the Franciscanethics. Alook at the Bible reveals different perspectives calling upon thesociety to exercise responsibility in helping the poor and thevulnerable. Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy use different terms,the ‘ebyon’, ‘ani’ and ‘dal’ to refer to the poor andpotentially demonstrate the relationship between health and poverty.This view is mainly seen when the farmers are called upon to desistfrom harvesting all their grains to the edge of the farm, and allowthe poor to benefit from the remnants because they do not have theland to grown their own.Christwas born and raised at the time in which poverty was a common socialproblem. God, as the creator of all persons, he chose to distancehimself from power and riches, emphasize the importance of humanity,and identify with the poor by living among the poor and preaching therecognition of their interests.TheFranciscan values lay emphasis on the need to observe the dignity ofall the humans in the society. Franciscan values acknowledge the factthat human beings were created in the image, as well as the likenessof God. Furthermore, human beings are a representation of God’sTrinity thus, they are essential to the fulfillment of therelationship with God, as well as the community, as opposed toindividualism way of living.
Baruth,M. Bopp, M, Webb, B. & Peterson, J. (2015). The Role andInfluence of Faith Leaders on Health- Related Issues and Programs intheir Congregation. JRelig Health(2015) 54:1747–1759
Cone,P. (2010). A Developing Theology of Poverty and Health Applied toNursing Education. ChristianHigher Education,14(3),158–176, 2015
Craig,D. (2008).Religious Healthcare as Community Benefit: Social Contract,Covenant or Common Good? KennedyInstitute of Ethics Journal18(4): 301-330
Fogel,S. & Rivera, S. (2003). Religious Beliefs and HealthcareNecessities: Can they Co-exist? Spring,2012.
Nairn,T. (2003). Franciscan Values. FranciscanAction network.Retrieved fromhttp://www.franciscanaction.org/Upload_Module/upload/FAN%20values%20Tom%20Nairn%20OFM%20PDF.pdf
Richardson,L. (1999). Patients Rights and Professional Responsibilities: TheMoral Case for Cultural Competence. TheMount Sinai Journal Of Medicine 267-70
Background: The position of healthcare in the current society is important. Several countries have even gone further to institute reforms that allow the government to take full charge of healthcare, an arrangement that is designed to allow the persons with low income to be assured of free healthcare access funded by tax systems.
Purpose: This paper discusses the question of the legitimacy of the government-responsible healthcare.
Thesis: while the issue sufficiently qualifies to be conceived as a subject of ethical dilemma, ensuring free access of healthcare for the poor is particularly justifiable from various moral grounds, especially the religious teaching and the Franciscan ethics.
Religious Standpoint: The bible reveals various perspectives calling upon the society to exercise responsibility in helping the poor and the vulnerable.
Franciscan Ethics Standpoint: Franciscan values are aimed at caring for all forms of creation, taking all creatures, especially human beings, as sisters and brothers. The Franciscan values lay emphasis on the need to observe the dignity of all the humans in the society.
Purpose Restatement: The aim of this paper has been to discuss the question of the legitimacy of the government-responsible healthcare.
Findings: It has successfully argued that, while the issue sufficiently qualifies to be conceived as a subject of ethical dilemma, ensuring a free access of healthcare for the poor is particularly justifiable from various ethical grounds, especially the religious teaching and the Franciscan ethics.
Reflective statement: The society should support fee healthcare for the poor