Bishop's Story: Lesson for Health Care Reform?

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One of the criticisms of the government-run insurance plan moving through Congress is that Americans would not get the care they need fast enough. Instead of being rushed to specialists, some fear they will get stuck in red tape. 

When it comes to health care reform, one of President Barack Obama's toughest critics speaks from experience.

Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., and founder of the High Impact Leadership Coalition said the health care plan "as it stands now, is absolutely, patently un-Godly and evil."

About four years ago, Jackson knew something was not right with his health and knew he was in trouble when his doctor had a hard time looking him in the eye.

It was stage three esophageal cancer and Jackson was given a 15 percent chance of living.

Finding Treatment
           
He and his wife Michele went straight to Johns Hopkins University for treatment. It was not the normal avenue they would have taken for care, but Jackson needed aggressive treatment fast.
           
A full team of doctors got to work. They installed a feeding tube, strapped a chemo pack to his hip and made appointments for daily radiation treatments.
           
About half way through the agonizing ordeal, Jackson's insurance company declared his treatments "experimental" and sent the family a bill.
           
"And the numbers were very large," Michele recalled. "$100,000 and he hadn't had surgery yet."
           
Then Jackson suffered more physical problems.

"I had a mini-stroke within three months of the beginning of the process," Jackson said. "My whole right side was paralyzed. I had a blood clot break off from my leg. I almost died from that."

In the end, Jackson's insurance paid for his treatments. However, if his treatment had been delayed and he had been mired down in bureaucratic muck, he said there is no question about it, he would be dead. 

Reverse Classism?

In fact, Jackson believes lots of Americans will die if government run health care ever becomes a reality.
           
"You've got hundreds of thousands, I believe, of people who are teetering in a place where they will die, or lose limbs or have major repercussions because they just can't get help," he said.
           
However, the Obama administration said that is the problem they are trying to fix.
           
"There is rampant rationing in our insurance system today," Linda Douglass, spokeswoman for the White House Office of Health Reform told CBN News. "Most people do not get everything they want to do covered by the health insurance system."
           
Instead, she said patients are held hostage by what insurance companies decide to cover.
           
However, Bishop Jackson fears current health care legislation will create a kind of "reverse classism."
           
"In other words," he said "I'm going to lower the treatment for all people and kill some and it is almost as though the life of the poorest guy is worth more than the life of the richer guy."
           
Supporters of the bill say it is important to provide an option for the 12.5 million Americans the administration said are denied coverage altogether because of pre-existing conditions.
           
"In addition to the multi-millions of Americans who simply can't afford to get coverage because employers don't offer coverage," Douglass added.

Filling the Void
           
Jackson said Americans should look back at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to see how government often fails. But private, faith-based organizations often fill the void.
           
Meanwhile, the Jacksons have a renewed appreciation for the care they received and the time they have together.
           
"It was just a nightmare," Michele said. "But I'm just so thankful to God it's over. He's cancer free."

*Originally published September 9, 2009

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