In one of The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s less well-known speeches he said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
If he’s right, then the recent proposal, contained in the Republican tax plan, to repeal the Affordable Care Act should be seen as a catastrophic injustice.
As a minister of the Gospel who has walked with low-income Kentuckians for 18 years, I have seen the shocking pain of being sick or injured without adequate coverage.
Our U.S. senators have worked tirelessly in secret to make life harder for those in need to get care when needed. They may claim their legislation brings “better care” for all, but it does just the opposite.
Repealing Medicaid expansion, which brought health care to millions of the working poor, is not better care.
Squeezing federal funding for traditional Medicaid so that kids, people with disabilities, pregnant women and seniors are left fighting for scraps is not better care.
Letting insurance companies off the hook for providing plans that don’t cover things like hospitalization, drug treatment and preventive services is not better care.
Raising out of pocket costs so high that insurance coverage becomes unusable is not better care.
The tax bill that the Senate is considering cuts billions from our most vulnerable families, friends and neighbors in order to pay for tax cuts for the very wealthy. In fact, here in Kentucky, 704,000 people would lose Medicaid coverage so that 29,000 very wealthy Kentuckians can receive an average tax break of $11,000.
Proverbs 31:9 tells us to “speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and the needy.” Health care is a human right. When only the well-off can afford care, when the poor cannot get to the doctor so that the wealthy can become wealthier, it is our job to speak out against these inequities.
This is not a political issue — this is about people’s lives. Regardless of your party affiliation, we are called to hold our leaders to account, especially for what King referred to as “unjust laws.”
And make no mistake, this legislation is morally bankrupt and an injustice in its purest form.
The Rev. Donald K. Gillett is senior pastor at East Second Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lexington and executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches.