Health Care as a Social Good

Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by:
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Health Care as a Social Good
    Book Description:

    David M. Craig traveled across the United States to assess health care access, delivery and finance in this country. He interviewed religious hospital administrators and interfaith activists, learning how they balance the values of economic efficiency and community accountability. He met with conservatives, liberals, and moderates, reviewing their ideas for market reform or support for the Affordable Care Act. He discovered that health care in the US is not a private good or a public good. Decades of public policy and philanthropic service have made health care a shared social good.Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and the American Democracyargues that as escalating health costs absorb more and more of family income and government budgets, we need to take stock of the full range of health care values to create a different and more affordable community-based health care system. Transformation of that system is a national priority but Americans have failed to find a way to work together that bypasses our differences. Craig insists that community engagement around the common religious conviction that healing is a shared responsibility can help us achieve this transformation-one that will not only help us realize a new and better system, but one that reflects the ideals of American democracy and the common good.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-098-9
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-24)

    Imagine a legislature or a town hall meeting where the “capitalists” and the “socialists” were not allowed to leave until they came to some agreement about the main goals and policies of health care reform. This scene seems impossible in the United States. The continuing debate over the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is less a “battle royale” than a battle without end. Despite surviving judicial review by the US Supreme Court in 2012, the law’s implementation remained beset by partisan rancor. A constructive step forward would be for partisans on both sides to agree that the labels...

  5. PART ONE The Moral Languages of US Health Care
    • Chapter 1 Health Care as a Private Benefit or Private Choice
      (pp. 27-53)

      Americans are divided and confused about health care reform. The divisions were on display during the congressional debates and votes over the legislation that became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Alone among his fellow Republicans, Anh Cao, a Louisiana representative, voted for the original House bill. He cast the only Republican vote in favor of any of the bills that fed into the federal law. After the Senate voted along straight party lines, Mr. Cao then joined all of his fellow House Republicans and thirty-four House Democrats in voting against the Senate bill that President Barack...

    • Chapter 2 Health Care as a Public Right
      (pp. 54-84)

      This chapter opens with an observation by a member of the Health Connector Board, the board charged with overseeing the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform law. In our interview this union leader described how religious activists successfully brought God into the Massachusetts debate. Through petition drives, demonstrations, canvassing, and other forms of advocacy, the members of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and their allies across the state made the case that God wants everyone to have affordable, quality health care. From the state officials calculating the cost of expanded coverage to the insurance, business, and hospital executives eyeing their bottom...

    • Chapter 3 Health Care as a Social Good
      (pp. 85-120)

      The first two chapters reviewed the three moral languages of US health care, detailing the values and visions of justice behind each one. This approach departs from standard assessments of the health care reform debate. Conservative market reformers and liberal rights advocates both start with a different question: What kind of good is health care? Conservatives tend to see health care as a private good, while liberals tend to view it as a public good. These empirical-sounding claims are rhetorically powerful, but they circumscribe the terms of the debate in ways that obscure the public-private partnerships that have built up...

  6. PART TWO Religious Values in Health Policy, Markets, and Politics
    • Chapter 4 Modeling Community Benefits: SOCIAL CONTRACT, COMMON GOOD, COVENANT
      (pp. 123-152)

      Part 1 of this book reviewed the three moral languages of US health care. None of them accounts for how much US health care is organized as a social good. Chapter 3 described Americans’ social investments in innovation, excellence, compassion, and equity through many decades of public policy and public funding. Other shared values have entered US health care through the philanthropic commitments of nonprofit health care organizations. As noted by Lester Salamon, American nonprofit organizations have frequently been “partners in public service” with government.¹ One foundation of this partnership is the tax-exempt status granted to charitable 501(c)(3) organizations by...

    • Chapter 5 Assessing Market-Driven Reforms: ECONOMY WITHOUT SOLIDARITY
      (pp. 153-182)

      Religious health care providers have to compete in the health care marketplace while serving their mission and values. Sometimes religious values can help sell a provider to patients, and marketing departments happily promote the sense of trustworthiness and compassion that many Americans associate with religious commitments. At other times mission-driven services pull resources away from investing in the latest technologies and newest facilities that attract privately insured patients to profitable service lines. In the parlance of religious providers and their critics, mission can enhance margin, but mission can hurt margin, too. Over the past several decades, many religious providers have...

    • Chapter 6 Building Solidarity: RELIGIOUS ACTIVISM AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
      (pp. 183-213)

      While congressional Democrats were drafting health care reform legislation in 2009, the Tea Party movement emerged as a force in American politics. The Affordable Care Act and the Tea Party can be thought of as fratricidal twins. They grew up together, and the antipathy between their supporters mimics an intense sibling rivalry. The conflict is over Americans’ values and their role in reforming US health care. Tea Partiers insist that every American exercise personal responsibility in driving health care toward market efficiency. Supporters of the ACA charge Americans with a shared responsibility for making health care a common good.


    (pp. 214-238)

    Health care works only if everyone is in it together. This simple slogan is the crux of the argument in this book. To the credit of the legislators who wrote the Affordable Care Act, the law attempts to remedy many of the ways that US health care has fallen short of a system in which everyone is in it together. At the same time, the law’s complexity highlights the deceptive simplicity of this slogan. There will be significant challenges on the road to an inclusive, fair, efficient, and sustainable health care system.

    Among the most important challenges is cost control....

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 239-254)
  9. Index
    (pp. 255-268)