This past weekend at the 2012 CBHD conference, I attended Daniel McConchie’s seminar on the Affordable
Care Act and its implications for a physician’s right of conscience. It would have taken me hours and hours to sort through the complicated legislation that is the ACA, so I’m very grateful to Daniel for providing a clear and concise overview of what the law entails. With a piece of legislation like the ACA, physicians are to be wary of the interference of government power, but I also reminded our group that insurance companies figured heavily into this law and they in their own way dictate to physicians how they are to practice medicine. What is almost completely lost in the health care debate is the role of charitable institutions, once the mainstay of American healthcare. Christians building hospitals and clinics as ministry outreach have a completely different motivation for practicing medicine from that of the government and the insurance companies. In a charitable endeavor, physicians can feel free to care for the whole person and make interventions that are informed by a Christian ethic. Even community-based and county hospitals bring a grassroots approach that frees physicians from large-scale plans managed from Washington or a skyscraper. Since health care is about some of a person’s most intimate affairs, it makes sense to think of health care delivery beginning at the local level rather than with some big, national plan.