Reflections from the Front: Care of the Poor

Reflections from the Front: Care of the Poor

In a recent article on this blog site,, Dr. Joe Gibes raised an important question about undocumented aliens and their need for healthcare. This is a difficult problem, a complex issue. In the first comment afterward, a writer states, “Agreed. Illegal or not, they are still people who have the right to see a doctor or go to the hospital. This is one of the reasons why we should have universal healthcare…”

In “The Tragedy of American Compassion”, Marvin Olasky (Regenery, Gateway, 1992) takes us to an earlier time in America when care of the poor fell largely to churches and other charitable bodies. Most Americans do not believe that solving the health crisis in America will be best done by the federal government. I think it can be too easy at times, whenever a legitimate criticism is raised about our current medical system to suggest that this is “why we should have universal healthcare…” While there clearly are problems with our present system, it is not at all clear that a federal program will solve these problems.

Truly complex problems seldom have simple straightforward solutions. For a more nuanced discussion of this issue, I would recommend:, though I will concede in advance that few who advocate strongly for a federal solution to our crisis will deem this site “balanced.” It will at least give you food for thought and illustrate how complex the issue really is.

  • In the meantime are you involved in civil civic discourse on this issue? Much public debate has become only vitriol.
  • In the meantime, are you involved as a local church in helping to meet healthcare needs in your community? Parish nurses, pro bono care, and local sliding scale clinics may be instrumental in meeting human need.
  • In the meantime, do you support local, non-governmental solutions to local problems? Dr. Olasky, rightly or wrongly, points to local, Christian solutions as our only real hope.

We as individuals certainly can’t solve the whole problem, but we may contribute to a solution. And we can seek a solution in a civil, non-demeaning, rational manner.


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