Open Letter, Or: How Much Higher Were Denver Premiums Hiked This Year?

More from the front on the health insurance reform, though admittedly a small side-battle amongst the Hartfords of the world. I couldn’t resist penning a letter to the Archbishop of Denver, who comes down hard against abortion and floats up care for a special needs child (that caught my eye, to be sure) as an alternative to some guvmint-run system. The archbishop didn’t have a good go at this issue, and I let him have it:
Dear Archbishop Chaput,
I caught your criticism of the Tablet via InsideCatholic this morning, I confess I didn’t think much of the Tablet piece, either. But I have to dissent from the echo of your supporters and suggest you do little better going after the peripherals on the issue.
For starters, like others you persist in framing the problem in terms of “health care.” I don’t think anything I’ve seen languishing in Congress deals with health care, except in terms of how to pay for it. 37th best in the world isn’t excellent, but it is in the neighborhood of 80th percentile, and at least we don’t have children dying by the thousands of malaria while third-rate dictators line up for coffee money from international corporations. The real challenge is dealing with the for-profit bureaucracies of insurance companies, the decided lack of control on spending, and the shocking lack of choice pretty much any of us (except for happy representatives, soldiers, and maybe clergy) have.
Another problem is trotting out young Magdalena as some sort of a anti-gov poster child. It’s far more likely that for-profit insurance giants will marginalize Magdalena. After all, how many elected representatives sit on the board of BCBS or any of the other insurance giants? The current system already forces people to make hard choices–and that’s the better scenario. Stamp “pre-existing” on your case and you’re done. You have no say, no recourse, and not even an election in which to vote. The security guards will just have you, your teabags and your birth certificates at the door. Don’t even mention a few automatic weapons.
I can appreciate you and others are dubious about government-run insurance. After all, we only have the Congress, the military, and Medicare/Medicaid to go on as a track record. I’ll tell you my church-run insurance plan just bumped up a few hundos a month. I’m not sure I have much faith in you as the employer of many of my colleagues in ministry. (What happened to their premiums this year?)
As someone who has watched with alarm as lobbyists pour millions into a political system in which I, as a middle-class independent, have virtually no influence, I can say I’m just as concerned with the present system: out of control costs, for-profit insurers piddling away a slice of my premiums to make sure business as usual runs as is.
So yes, I’m appreciative of the bishops’ long efforts to reform insurance. I’m also grateful for government programs that assist and assisted my relatives who have turned 65 and who served in the military. My advice is not to hide behind the skirts of Magdalena or the Tablet editors and make your own case for something. The very least you could do is attempt to be balanced: call out the profiteers and address your criticisms where they might do some good, rather than appear to be playing the dupe for the Republicans.

Signature followed. Then I noticed Michael Sean Winters does a bit more thorough and calm-headed job on the Colorado prelate than I. Despite having vexed the administration of InsideCatholic, I’m still able to read the site (and I still recommend portions of it, especially when they avoid Culture War puff pieces on women with too-short haircuts in church), and noted that commenter Rich offered a link to some excellent commentary from Archbishop Quinn, a man a bit more seasoned than Archbishop Chaput in the ways of politics and leadership.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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