Back to Resolutions
on Health Care, 1992
Mennonite Church USA
The American health-care system
is in crisis. The system has become intolerably expensive, and
fails to provide equitable access to care or achieve a better
level of health. The cost of health care is rising much faster
than the rate of inflation, with health care now consuming more
than 11 percent of our Gross National Product. Nevertheless,
fewer and fewer people are being served by the system. Over 34
million people, including 12 million children, lack health insurance
which would provide them with access to care.
However, the crisis in health
care involves more than just politics and money. At its core
it reflects misguided values and beliefs: our obsession with
physical health, our unrealistic expectations of the medical
profession, our fear of death, our faith in unlimited scientific
progress, our individualism and the pursuit of unfair profit.
The church is called to respond
to this crisis out of its biblical concern for both healing and
social justice. These concerns are evident in the message of
Jesus: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has
anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent
me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight
for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year
of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).
Historically, the healing ministry
of Jesus (Matthew 4:23-25) has been carried forward by the church
in efforts to restore health and wholeness to individuals and
communities. One example of this mission is the founding of hospitals
and medical missions throughout the world.
The concern for justice in health
care arises out of the belief in the sanctity and dignity of
persons created in God's image. This commitment to justice calls
us to free people from social structures which deny them that
dignity. Our concern for stewardship calls us to use our limited
resources wisely and in the promotion of justice.
Thus, as Mennonite Christians,
we are called to help shape the vision for a better and more
just health-care system. We must also actively work to help bring
it about. Therefore, we affirm the following vision of a health-care
system and commit ourselves to specific actions to work toward
I. We call for a health-care
- provides access to basic health
care to everyone, everywhere in the United States. As a social,
and not strictly individual good, basic health care should be
available to all regardless of ability to pay. While we cannot
provide everyone with all the services they might want or need,
all people should have access to basic preventive, curative,
supportive and emergency services.
- emphasizes prevention of illness
and health promotion. The health-care system should encourage
individual responsibility for a healthy lifestyle and for appropriate
use of the health-care system. To enable people to be responsible
we should emphasize health education, wellness promotion, illness
prevention and community- based primary care.
- places the curing of individuals
in the larger context of healing and caring for one another.
We need to shift from our endless pursuit of curing to a broader
vision of healing which stresses the overall well-being of the
person and community. There can be cure without healing and healing
without cure. We must always care, though we cannot always cure.
- recognizes our mortality and
the limits of our financial resources. We must acknowledge death
as an inevitable part of life, and resist the temptation to fight
it at all costs. We must also recognize that the financial resources
available for health care are limited and that we cannot continue
to spend without jeopardizing other social needs.
- controls cost and spending while
emphasizing quality care. While the system should continue to
emphasize quality of care, it should control cost and spending
through more simple administration, reduced malpractice litigation,
increased emphasis on primary care and the wise use of technology.
- is guided by a national health-care
policy. This comprehensive policy should guide management of
the health-care system by addressing issues of access to health
care, resource allocation and planning, technology assessment,
medical education and medical research.
II. As congregations, institutions
and members we resolve to
- reaffirm our biblical beliefs
about life and death, and our hope in the resurrection. Questions
about what we want from a health-care system are fundamentally
religious in nature. These foundational beliefs should provide
the basis from which we approach the healthcare system.
- promote the congregation as
a healing community. We must integrate a theology of healing
into our worship, teaching and small group ministries, incorporating
the practice of prayer and anointing for healing in worship services
and implementing congregational health-ministry programs.
- educate ourselves on issues
of healing, personal wellness, advance medical directives, health-care
ethics and health-care alternatives. Through education we can
help congregations become health-promotion communities.
- recognize and affirm the ministry
and accountability of health-care institutions, health-care professionals
and other caregivers. These people and institutions possess valuable
skills, knowledge and abilities. We support, encourage and challenge
them to fulfill their unique mission in a manner consistent with
kingdom values and priorities.
- recover a commitment to community
in bearing the cost of health care. We should utilize our financial
resources, institutions, volunteers and professionals to find
new ways of doing mutual aid in today's healthcare environment.
- become advocates for a health-care
system that includes fairness, accountability and accessibility.
Advocacy is a natural outgrowth of our Christian mission in health
and healing. We should share our vision of a just health-care
system with government and encourage the development of a national
health-care policy that sets priorities and brings justice and
order to our chaotic health-care system.
- call on Mennonite health-related
organizations (Mennonite Health Association, Mennonite Health
Services, Mennonite Nurses Association, Mennonite Medical Association
and Mennonite Mutual Aid) to lead in responding to the health
care crisis. We urge them to develop consultations, statements
and exemplary activities which are needed to move us from dialogue
to action in redefining the church's mission in health and healing
in the '90s.
Health Dialogue Steering Committee:
James Waltner (chair), Carl Good, Lawrence Greaser, Willard Krabill,
Anne Hershberger, James Lapp, Vyron Schmidt, and Gene Yoder.
Adopted by the
General Conference Mennonite Church Delegate Assembly, July 22,1992.
Back to Resolutions Index