Neutralized health service?

By Simon Barrow
July 2, 2009

With health care a top reform issue in the USA, there is much discussion of the NHS and other social-based systems – just as they are potentially being further undermined in the UK.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has recently attacked what it calls a "sledgehammer" approach to reform of the health service in England. The union is calling on ministers to instead work with doctors to cope with the tough times ahead –or else risk destroying ( through "dogmatic commercialisation" the enormous gains made since 1948.

The system is under pressure in Scotland and Wales too, but the parliament and assembly in those countries have attempted to ameliorate the zeal of the UK government for “efficiency” measures.

My colleague Jonathan Bartley has written recently from a Christian viewpoint of the moral imperative of socially-based health care (

Meanwhile, millions of vulnerable people on low incomes are still without cover in the richest nation on earth, as Health Care Stories for America ( illustrates.

Yet many Americans have come to believe the anti-national healthcare propaganda of the insurance companies and those with massive vested interests to defend in health inequality.

A relative of my wife’s in the US (where I am currently travelling) had to be persuaded that socialised medicine does not mean abandoning the very old when they get sick by cutting off treatment at a certain point – though rationing by age has indeed been discussed recently by those who see privatization as the route to overcoming financial restraints and challenges.

Barack Obama had a good swing back at the insurance giants on 30 June 2009. They usually argue that the government is useless at running things in a business efficient way, he pointed out. Yet suddenly they are claiming that they will be undermined by government involvement in health care. Something doesn’t add up. And it isn’t those who want to see millions pulled out of health poverty or exclusion through a single-payer system (, which, disappointingly, Obama is not yet willing to go for.

Our friends Sojourners in the USA have produced a downloadable pack on health care, which can be linked at the end of Jim Wallis' article, 'Three Moral Issues for Healthcare' here:

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