By Meryem Kamil
The healthcare debate raging around the country centers on partisanship and the limitations of the government. As Muslims, the question is not one of the public debt or pulling oneself up via bootstraps, but of social responsibility. Stories of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and sahabahs donating for charity and ensuring the well-being of the Muslim ummah paint a picture of how proactive the leaders of a community should be.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2008 that 46.3 million Americans age 18-65 are not covered by any form of healthcare. Yet if “society is responsible to God for the welfare of the individual,” as Hammudah Abdalati, author of Islam in Focus, puts it, why have Muslims not stepped up to the plate to change the status quo? According to Islamic code, a person is entitled to “security and care, should he become disabled” (Abdalati). By default, Muslims should encourage a governing body with these same priorities.
Under the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, the millions of uninsured Americans will qualify for a public option. Regulations for the private sector will also apply to government-provided care, which will be funded solely by premiums. A summary provided by the House Committee on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor proposes that the public option operate on a “level playing field.”
Additionally, private insurers will be unable to “engage in discriminatory practices” or “exclude coverage of treatments for pre-existing health conditions,” establishing a minimum quality standard for coverage (H.R. 3200). The goals of this bill include “affordability… competition… prevent[ion] of waste, fraud, and abuse.”
“The individual is responsible for the common welfare and prosperity of his society,” Abdalati preaches, and so does the healthcare proposal. The issue boils down to our duty as citizens of this country, and as Muslims. The community should be the proponent of reform and change, rather than a roadblock to the well-being of the public.
Islam in Focus by Hammudah Abdalati