Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Now What? Health Care and what is comeing next

In much of the debate over health care, the primary fight has been about ideology. I put in my two cents, and I was more motivated by my son's condition and my contacts with the medical system, bith good and bad, than by a need to be right about my politics. In my trying to understand the issue, Dr. Atul Gawande has always provided a clear non ideological perspective I have come to value.

His latest blog post again asks the question of how to keep cost down, and he does disappoint. His analysis of what happened with the Boston Childern's Hospital Community Asthma Initiative. They started a program to help children stay healthy within their condition. It worked and children visits for asthma have gone down dramatically. Insurance only covered a small part of the program, and its success in keeping children out of the hospital hurts the hospital's bottom line. Less children being hospitalized means less beds being filled. Will the hospital continue to do the right thing and keep children from ending in their beds? Will other hospitals implement similar programs. Economic theory says no as it gives no economic incentive for preventive care like this program.

The question is why not create an incentive to keep us healthier, and reward programs like Community Asthma Initiative? Instead of a program of pay for service, one of pay per program. I think that if we continue to view health care simple as what we do when we get sick, rather than how we live, we will continue to have cost for up

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Prayer needed

My family has gone through the wringer, lately. Baby Tito started vomiting on Thursday, so much so we ended in emergency. They sent us home with a pill and instructions to keep him hydrated. He then went back in on Saturday, as he did not want to drink and was getting dehydrated. Then as they tried numerous times to set the IV, I got hit with the bug. I started vomiting and continued to vomit for the next nine hours. The Hospital sent me home for being to sick to be there. After five sets of nurses and over twenty pokes to my son body, they set the IV in his scalp. My wife then fell under the curse of the bug. After a couple of days, my son was allowed to come home, only to return after he could not hold down dinner. Throughout this depressing episode, God was still present, and his love caressed us. Sometimes our life needs prayer.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Glenn Beck must think Mother Teresa a Commie

Yesterday, after all the brouhaha with Sojouners and Glenn Beck, I found myself listening to Glenn Beck to see what he would answer Jim Wallis, and the rest of the Christian challenge to his attack on "social justice."

I found two interesting items.

First, I found that he has a slippery handle on theology, and I expected that, what surprised me was his attack on the American progressive movement of the 19th and 20th century.

He showed a curious hate for Woodrow Wilson, more curious was his lack of mentioning that the first progressive president was actually republican Teddy Roosevelt, and the second was republican William Taft. What Mr. Beck was saying was that the Progressives of that era were actually closeted Marxists, Socialists, and Fascists. So, the great social movements of Temperance, Suffrage, and others social reforms were part of the a great communist plot. His technique is to read a passage by one of his targets and then say they use the same words that Marxists used. I am not sure if is taking out a play out Rush's playbook, making the word, "progressive" a suspect to his listeners the way Rush made "liberal" suspect for his. He has to rape history for this. He has to ignores the roots of the Progressive movement in the Second Great Awakening and the Abolitionist movement.

Back to the first point of having a weak understanding of theology. He reminded Jim Wallis of the separation of Church and state, which I had a hard time following in this context. The thinking was since Rev Wallis is a spiritual adviser to President Obama, his criticism of Mr. Beck was invalid. He says that any church interested justice was just interested in government control. When he say that I wonder if he includes Operation Rescue? His logic does.

Further, he does not mention the the criticism of him for the Catholic Church, and his own Church of Latter-day Saints. He, though ties, the Catholic Church to Liberation Theology and to American Black Theology. He follows up with stating the Catholic Church helped the Marxist movement in Latin America. All of his rant started to be come more like a two year old's temper tantrum.

Finally, he says that Jesus was not concern with politics. I will write soon about the Politics of Jesus, later.

It is suffice to say by his logic, since he thinks any religious person who speaks social justice, would included in its list Mother Teresa and the Pro-life movement.

I end with his interview with Joel Osteen. This is funny as it Mr. Beck is pulling a Rodney King, "why can't we just get along," Contrast with his rant. Does he understand theology? You tell me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Glen Beck and Jesus

Usually, I am not concern with what Glenn Beck and his political views. While I have different views on the role of government than he does, do not believe that government is the solution to everything. But the controversy he started was not about what he said about governments, it arose from what he said about churches. He has added to the fire by failing to understand the Gospel.

I wrote a couple of days ago about his attack on churches that talk about Social Justice. He believes that such talk as code words to promote communism. He told people to leave their churches if they speak about social justice. Naturally, the churches pushed back on such anti-Christian position.

I become part of a push back by Sojouners, the Catholic Chuch among others. He then, just today, called a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus to have it mean anything but a personal transformation. The Gospel is about "you" he claims. Listen:

I guess the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with the Gospel for Beck. Forget the Love of Neighbor. Forget Jesus' words. Forget Jesus. It is about "you." Much of his words echo the words of the craftiest of all creatures. "It is about YOU" His is the Gospel of YOU.

Many people could and have mounted a defense of him, saying that it is simply an anti-government position, but the original quote said nothing about government. He did not say to run away from churches that look to the government for solutions or are controlled by the government. He said run away from churches that speak about social justice.

He, in effect told his listeners to run away from Jesus. Hear the the word of the Lord:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and the regaining of sight to the blind,
to set free those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. (Matt 4.18-19)

Repent, Glenn, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Their Real religion

"Good parents do not exploit their children for their own financial or personal gain," she said.

The she is Rebecca Reyes, who is the middle of a nasty custody battle with her former husband, Joesph Reyes. While it seems to be a garden variety mess of a custody battle, where the children are simply a tool to get back at the other, the story has caught the attention of the media and the blogosphere. The wrinkle that has pushed the story past simple neighbor gossip and made it the stuff of national debate is that Mr. Reyes may face jail time for taking her young daughter to church.

Rebecca Reyes claims that they had agreed to raise the child Jewish and that Mr Reyes had baptized their child against their agreement and her wishes. After the Baptism, a judge agreed with Rebecca Reyes and placed an injunction on Mr. Reyes taking his daughter to Church. Mr. Reyes then took, with TV crew following, to a Catholic Mass. He now faces charges for violating court order.

What to make of the story? Is it a case of freedom of faith? What does it say about Religion? No much. The more that emerges from the story, the more that it seems that the Rebecca and Joesph share the same faith. The both attend regularly the first temple of narcissism. The fact is that a little girl is paying for the sins of the Parents.

This seem less a story about religion and more about how narcissism warps into hate.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Glenn Beck and Justice

In a recent show, Glenn Beck told his listeners that to watchout for Churches that use the term "social justice," or "economic justice." He thinks that those terms are code words that will lead to the dark tunnel of Communism. While others have taken him to task for denying the very Gospel, I take the time to look at the word justice. I have a feeling he does not understand Justice and he fears the word "social." I wonder if he would run away from a Ice Cream Social as closeted gathering of Marxists?

In reality, there is no social justice only justice. Justice is the very foundation of God's creation:

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.
-Psalm 89.14

Justice is bonded with love. I would say that a church that does not speak about Justice is one where the Gospel of Jesus is foreign. All Justice manifests itself in the greater society. If the poor are treated badly in the society, then justice is Kingdom of God is hidden. yet the Kingdom of God always burst forward. Justice goes beyond the individual, beyond our culture to the very heart of God. When, in Gen 1, God pronounces creation good, God performs an act of Justice. Justice it the act of validating existence. To practice justice is to..." encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Isiah 1.17.

By drawing the word into a partisan debate, Glenn Beck reveals that he has no understanding of the word or the Kingdom of God. Justice is beyond both democrats and republicans.

When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. -Proverbs 21:15

By fearing churches speaking out for social justice, he fears the Gospel.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Excitement and Depression in the Potential for Change in Health Care

I have been reluctant to write about health care recently. My 11-month-old son will be going in for major brain surgery in April, and my psychological tendency is to put it out of my mind. I’d rather hear him in the mornings as he plays in his crib. I want to meditate on his wonder of just being alive and playing with his newest discovery, his voice. He is my proof for the truth of the gospel and Jesus’ love for us. Yet, I must find the strength to speak for the truth again. I must change for his sake and deal with reality.

Through the whole ordeal with my son, I have come in close contact with our medical system, both the good and the bad. I have added my voice to the need to reform the way we do health care. Our system’s recipe, several slabs of dysfunction flavored with a pound of greed, has led to growing costs and a competitive disadvantage worldwide. It can lead to our downfall. More than the numbers, we have to remember that behind the numbers are real humans like my son. Literally, it is a matter of life and death for thousands of people.

The proposed changes are a start. Yet they fail to address some of the systemic problems: pay per service, the inefficient payment system, the lack of collaborative medicine. The irony is that we do have model systems of health care that work: the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and the hospital that is treating my son, Seattle Children’s Hospital. These institutions are models to follow, and sadly, models all too rare in the United States.

Now, as we are coming to the end of the health-care debate, and I think some bill will be passed, I hope we are not stopped by a wall of seeming success. None of the reforms proposed attack the systemic problems. Health-care costs will continue to drag American business behind other countries. The problem we have yet to address is how best to deliver health care. We have to change how we deliver care.

Change, we have to acknowledge, is hard, but it has to be done. Atul Gawande wrote a famous essay on how hard it was to get checklists into hospitals’ ICUs, even though they cost little and are shown to save lives. Gawande’e article both excites and depresses — excites in how a simple change saved lives, and depresses in how those changes were and are resisted. He quotes Dr. Peter Pronovost on why his discovery of using checklists was not adopted more. The quote reveals our psychological tendencies and the problems we face in repenting from our ways:

The fundamental problem with the quality of American medicine is that we’ve failed to view delivery of health care as a science. The tasks of medical science fall into three buckets. One is understanding disease biology. One is finding effective therapies. And one is insuring those therapies are delivered effectively. That third bucket has been almost totally ignored by research funders, government, and academia. It’s viewed as the art of medicine. That’s a mistake, a huge mistake. And from a taxpayer’s perspective it’s outrageous.

Whatever emerges out of the next round of reforms, we must continue to push for more reforms. My son’s generation is counting on us.