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To Bear One Another’s Burdens

September 26, 2011

By Sister Denise S.

At lunch today I heard that transportation is being cut out of government budgets for poor people who are on kidney dialysis.  This would be just one case of what happens when we talk about cutting programs for the poor.  When people are lobbying for large-scale cuts to programs for the poor, I don’t think they have a clue about, nor can they visualize, the consequences of their platform in concrete terms—and how it will affect the lives of people, including people who had formerly been part of the middle class.

It would be great if churches would organize to provide help for transportation for the poor, but all of these “faith-based” efforts themselves need funds, or they may not have enough “feet on the ground,” or enough vehicles to pick up the slack from where the government left off, as the case may be.  To depend on the generosity of people doesn’t always cut it in our society today.  This is the reason why it has to be that the government provides a safety net for the poor.  In many instances in the United States folks have lost their sense of community or responsibility for the most vulnerable.  In many cases it’s that the poor live far from areas where the wealth and power reside.  No one really has to see them, for to see them may require more than the rest may be willing to bear.

Who then will absorb the costs for transportation for indigent dialysis patients?  For some (as was the case of a friend of mine in Mexico) no insurance and no transportation translate to a death knell.  We might just need to tell people to stay home and die.  Dialysis is only for those who can afford insurance, anyway. Another approach that has been used for the medically indigent in the U.S. in the past is to extend the time between dialysis sessions; fewer sessions means less healthcare dollars and less need for transportation for the people.  I understand that people who are on this regimen suffer great physical pain.

Unfortunately, we in the United States are subject to having to make all of the decisions that plague the First World. Because of modern science and the relative abundance that we have, it is a luxury that we are able to make these decisions.  We are not of the Third World yet.  Are we willing to bear this luxurious burden?


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