I’m sitting down to compose this column just after the announcement of the Supreme Court ruling upholding, I think, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This ruling will be parsed by lawyers, politicians and pundits for weeks to come. It is conceivable that the weak enforcement provisions of the individual mandate and the ruling against the Medicaid provision will make the law a poor tool for achieving broader access to care while curbing cost. Time will tell.
Earlier this morning I read a blog from Larry Minnix, CEO of Leading Age. He led with a Zen proverb that I find especially apt for our CHHSM community regardless of the way ACA plays out: "Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."
CHHSM ministries are part of a passion-driven movement that has been chopping wood and carrying water for more than 2000 years. At its best, the ACA will be an awkward, transient mechanism that may lead incrementally to a more just and compassionate social order. Regardless of the extent to which this becomes true, our mission is not altered nor our values changed. Our mission is to “sustain and advance the work of healing and service as a ministry of the church of Jesus Christ.” Our core values are rooted in the expression of that church that is the United Church of Christ, which centers its witness in extravagant welcome, continuing testament and changing lives.
The United Church of Christ has long advocated for access to quality, affordable health care as a basic human right. Our church supports ACA as a significant, if imperfect, advance in our nation’s maturation as a society that truly cares for “the least of these.” I personally take some heart in the Supreme Court decision as an indication that the ideological posturing that has squeezed enlightened conversation from civil discourse may not be the final word.
But whether or not ACA proves to be a sign of enlightenment, we live in the light of the Gospel and so will continue to chop wood and carry water for those we serve.