Leading by Example

By: Rev. Paul N. Papas II
September 4, 2009 2:33PM EDT

It has been proven over and over you cannot make someone care; you cannot legislate morality, nor can you fake passion.

Whether you agreed with him or not the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy leaves a leadership vacancy in the area of a passionate commitment to help people who have been pushed aside and had theirs voices silenced. He championed more than just this list of laws:

· Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

· Family & Medical Leave Act

· Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

· Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), supporting state programs to provide health insurance to uninsured children in low-income families.

· Family Opportunity Act, providing states the option to allow low and middle- income families with special needs children to purchase health care through Medicaid

· Recognition of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as a biomedical research institute and increased funding for research.

· Early Intervention, Treatment and Prevention Act, providing for a range of education and training and community-based prevention and diversion services.

· Civil Rights for Institutionalized Person Act (CRIPA)

· Fair Housing Act expansion to include people with disabilities

· “Ticket to work” provisions under Social Security disability programs

· Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), including restrictions on insurance limitations for pre-existing conditions

· Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act

· “Wounded Warrior” act to improve access to mental health services for National Guard and Reserve forces

One of the pieces of legislation that he has tried over and over again to push through is universal health care. The debate over this bill has produced a passion this country has not seen in my lifetime. This issue is not a racial or class issue as some have suggested. It is neither a Republican nor Democrat issue.

There seems to be a general agreement that medical costs are very high. There also seems to a general agreement that medical services in the United States are far superior to medical services in other countries.

The town hall meetings have produced a passionate response to the 1,000 or so pages of the present proposed health care bill.

I am not going to argue for or against the proposal. The proponents argue that the trillions of dollars to implement this proposal are necessary to insure that everyone receives health care, which they say is a right. The opponents argue that we cannot afford it and that it takes away too many freedoms.

I ask you to review each page of the House and Senate versions and ask your congressmen and Senators if the concerns you have about your medical needs will be covered under this plan.

My questions include would programs that we fought so hard to get and keep such as the Jail Diversion Program be funded? Would a non-medical person or board in Washington have to decide whether a clinician would ride in the police cruiser before they go out on a call? Would a state judge need authorization from a non-medical person or board in Washington to sign an emergency commitment order for a person he or she has determined to be a danger to himself or others? If the person or board in Washington decides that the person who is a danger to himself or others denies coverage what does the Judge do with that person? Would veterans need to go to the same non-medical person or board in Washington before or after going to the VA? Would Domestic Violence victims need go to the same non-medical person or board in Washington before going to the emergency room? Would our now private medical information be owned and controlled by this non-medical person or board in Washington and become part of giant national personal data base. Would many of the gains listed above be negated by a non-medical person or board in Washington?

There have been few times in this country’s history that have produced such grass routes passion on both sides of an issue. I have asked you to be involved before, but this time is more critical than ever. Don’t let anyone make your decisions for you.

Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in MA and AZ), founder of the Family Renewal Center and past President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, support groups for consumers in Marlboro and Framingham , and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May http://www.narrowpathministries.org, http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org, and http://www.namigreaterframingham.org.

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