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Claiborne talks health care on CNN

The ongoing debate about health care reform made headlines once again on Aug. 17 when President Barack Obama announced he was considering dropping his “public option” insurance plan for a compromising nonprofit health cooperative proposal.

The government-run public option has been a heated topic between conservatives and liberals over the past months.

In CNN’s coverage of the decision, the news channel explored what a co-op model could mean for health care.

Shane Claiborne, an Eastern grad and Christian activist, was featured on the program, sharing from his personal experience with Ohio-based Christian Healthcare Ministries.

While his portion of the coverage only spanned a few minutes, Claiborne spoke on both the convenience of sharing bills with a large group of trusted peers and the assurance of seeing exactly how his money is being used.

“One of the things they were looking for was not just ideologies and people that got good talking points but folks that are doing something that have something to show for what they believe,” Claiborne said of the CNN interview.

Claiborne, who is well known for beginning the Simple Way, a community home, in Philadelphia, tapped into the CHM resources when he was jumped in the city a few years ago.

Even though he entered the emergency room technically uninsured, Claiborne, with the help of CHM, was able to negotiate his $11,000 bill to $6,000. CHM then wrote a check to cover the expenses.

“Because CHM has been at it awhile, they have a pretty good feel of what you should actually be paying, what the real cost would be, not the jacked-up costs of when you get a bill,” Claiborne said.

He advised students to begin looking into the various co-op groups out there, even some Mennonite collectives.

To many college students, health care is an intimidating topic that is often acknowledged but not fully understood. The reality of the reform’s impact on their lives rarely factors in until after they graduate.

However, without a public option, those same students will find themselves without any coverage when they leave school, unless they continue to mooch from parents.

While Claiborne believes co-ops like CHM, which spends 90 percent of its money on actual medical needs, help the situation, he said they are not enough to fix the real problem.

“The solution to the broken system is going to be a lot of different things that need to be done,” Claiborne said. “What we can all agree on though is that something has to be done and it’s going to take all of us working together to make that happen.

“I would hope too that we can agree that a quality health care should not be a privilege that you have to afford but that it is a right for everyone.”

Claiborne said co-ops are especially appealing to Christians, based on the early church’s example of taking on one another’s burdens.

“Even for those who would rather not see the government as the solution, creating things like this are a really great option and they don’t just tear down, they build up,” Claiborne said.

“Yeah, the system’s broken and maybe we can’t wait on politicians in DC to solve this. Hopefully they will do better, but meanwhile we’re going to go ahead and enact what we know the Church should be doing.”

In the end, Claiborne said it is important to look past ideologies and recognize the real human emergency.

“As debates continue to happen, folks are suffering really deeply from the current system,” he said.

“For me the urgency around this conversation has come from knowing real people that are so deeply affected and troubled by it and knowing that Jesus really cares about those folks.”

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