Thursday, June 08, 2006

Final Thoughts on Health Care Before the 75th General Convention

Let me share some final thoughts about this 75th General Convention and issues of health care. I have highlighted a number of health issues rising from reports of Commissions, Committees, Agencies, and Boards, “A” resolutions from the Blue Book. However, there are some other resolutions that address health issues, and it will be interesting to see what comes of them.

One is Resolution D002, submitted by a lay deputy from the diocese of Iowa. It is as follows:

Title: Affirming Support for a Public Policy on Tobacco

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Church's commitment to work against the devastating effects of both the use of tobacco products and of secondary smoke, and strongly urges that the Episcopal Church be encouraged at all levels to advocate for proven and effective ways to reduce the deadly toll of tobacco; and be it further
Resolved, That the Washington Office of the Episcopal Church, the Public Policy Network, and other appropriate agencies at the Episcopal Church Center facilitate the implementation of this resolution at the federal level; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church be encouraged at all levels to partner with appropriate public health and community organizations working to reduce the health impact of tobacco.

We should all be informed by now of the hazards of tobacco smoke, whether inhaling one’s own or inhaling secondary smoke. We should be, but that doesn’t seem to stop young people from starting. Her explanation points out that smoking “is responsible for over 400,000 deaths per year - more than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.” She also notes that “The 73rd General Convention affirmed its understanding of the dangers of secondhand smoke when it passed legislation declaring all church buildings "tobacco-free zones." “ I’m not sure how many of our congregations are even aware of this. You can look for the resolution and her full explanation here.

Another is Resolution A138. It is submitted by the Executive Council Committee on the Status of Women:

Title: Domestic Abuse Training

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention provide for the development of a standardized curriculum in the area of domestic and intimate partner violence for clergy and lay professionals; and be it further
Resolved, That all clergy and lay professionals be required to take a minimum of six hours of such training by the year 2012; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $5,000 to the Committee on the Status of Women for the purpose of development of materials and a training program, to then be implemented by each Diocese.

Now, there are many ways to identify the problem of domestic and intimate partner violence, and one if them is certainly as an issue in health care. That is where many victims are identified – sometimes, sadly, too late – and where many of them find their first opportunities for support. While there is no direct reference to health care in the resolution, those of us “in the business” are aware of how often it is a factor in patient care, and how many women tell us in the process of other care that they have been abused, in the past if not recently. My only concern about this resolution is whether there would be support for training. We are all required still to be trained on clergy sexual misconduct and on racial and ethinic issuse, and a resolution from the Committee on HIV/AIDS is also calling for mandatory training. As worthy as this would be, I don't know how much support there would be for making it mandatory. The text and explanation are here.

Finally, there is Resolution C032, submitted by the Diocese of California:

Title: Health Care for All Americans

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the Episcopal Church call upon all its dioceses, parishes, and members to work towards the goal of accessible, adequate, appropriate, high-quality, effective, efficient, affordable, and sustainable health care for all Americans; and be it further
Resolved, that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church re-establish the Standing Commission on Health as a means of fulfilling this goal

I have noted in an earlier post that General Convention has called for this before, and has described characteristics of “quality health care.” This would certainly be an important initiative for a revitalized Standing Commission on Health. You can read the resolution and explanation here.

There are other resolutions as well, seeking to address various issues that affect health and health care. We need to be aware of these concerns, and how they are addressed in General Convention. These are opportunities for us as a faith community to bring the faith as we have received it to these issues, and to bring the Gospel, made incarnate in service, to the people who face them.

1 comment:

Fr. Aaron Orear said...

Howdy. This isn't actually a comment on your entry...I'm writing an article for The Living Church, about Episcopal blogs. Yours seems to fill a niche I've not seen elsewhere, the chaplain blog. Might I reference you in my article? Further, would you be willing to answer a few questions, via e-mail, about your blog and how it fits into your ministry? In an effort to avoid attracting spam I'm not going to leave my e-mail here but there's a link to it on my blog, under "Keep In Touch," right-side menu. Thanks!