Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Last week, I shared a very personal story of my struggle with both cancer and the insurance companies. My doctors informed me that I had two near-death experiences along with a mini-stroke that temporarily caused by whole right side (face, arms, and leg) to be paralyzed. Although I am fine now, that was a scary season in my life.

During my health challenges I met scores of foreigners at Johns Hopkins, hoping the American doctors could save them. Middle Easterners, South Americans, and Europeans were among those that frequented various Hopkins departments. Surprisingly, the day I met with my surgeon to lay out the plan for my 7½-hour surgery, an aging man all the way from Hong Kong sat with several family members waiting to see my internationally known doctor.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the flawed American healthcare system has developed the best doctors in the world. Had my hospital not been on its game, I would not be here today. Many Americans could say the same. Our most obvious challenge is how we give access to everyone who needs help, while maintaining the best treatment in the world.

It seems to me that the healthcare “reforms” currently offered by the administration may have deadly consequences for the average person. Delay and denial of services will literally spell death for thousands. What is most disappointing about the healthcare debate today is that it has deteriorated to partisan wrangling in which the common good is often forgotten.

Healthcare continues to bounce from corner to corner of the political spectrum as opinions fly instead of real answers. The Democrats are continuing town hall meetings to rally support for the president’s health care legislation. They have been met with jeers, taunts, and in one case effigy. Despite Democratic public relations efforts, citizens have lots of questions. In fact, people have so many questions that the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD), stated that vulnerable Democrats have scheduled more than 1,000 meetings this month.

Every week, I hear a new complaint about the ramifications of the Obama plan. Last week, thousands spoke out against the idea of government-sponsored insurance that includes abortion. This week, Sarah Palin attacked the administration’s plan because she believes her Down syndrome baby’s care would be based on the “level of productivity.” She called the policy “down right evil.” Palin stated that there would be a “death panel” which would determine the fate of children like hers.


Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.