What in the world?  The New York Times reported (with glee I’m sure) yesterday an apparent departure from the stand the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are taking with the health care legislation that was just passed:

The Senate bill, approved Thursday morning, allows any state to bar the use of federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion and requires insurers in other states to divide subsidy money into separate accounts so that only dollars from private premiums would be used to pay for abortions.

Just days before the bill passed, the Catholic Health Association, which represents hundreds of Catholic hospitals across the country, said in a statement that it was “encouraged” and “increasingly confident” that such a compromise “can achieve the objective of no federal funding for abortion.” An umbrella group for nuns followed its lead.

The same day, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called the proposed compromise “morally unacceptable.”

The divide frames one of the most contentious issues facing House and Senate negotiators as they try to produce a bill that can pass in both chambers.

I wonder how much weight this group’s position carries and how much they really represent Catholic Hospitals across the country.  I mean we see how well the American Medical Association and AARP have represented their constituencies with this health care debate.  Their declining membership roles tell the tale.

I understand that the Catholic position is that health care reform is needed and they aren’t that concerned about how it is accomplished, but the sticking point for them is that abortion isn’t funded.  That is where I’m scratching my head over the Catholic Health Association’s openness to this bill.  Especially in light of no Stupak language being a part of the Senate bill and liberal members of Congress vowing to have even that stripped during conferencing.

So I think optimism over this bill is naive and misplaced, and frankly I’m disappointed.

8 comments
  1. You just can’t pigeonhole an entire group of people, especially one as large as the Catholic Church. The thing about the Conference of Bishops is that it is made up of politicians who are more interested in pleasing hard-liners in Rome than doing the right thing. Thank Christ for the nuns and other hospital workers who are in the trenches and realize that the moral imperative here is to get people insured!
    .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..Whale Potion =-.

    1. @Guy Incognito, I understand that the Catholic Church doesn’t hold the same opinion as I do regarding health care reform. What about the moral imperative to protect innocent life? What about making people get quality end-of-life care?

      I wouldn’t agree, but would respect their position had that endorsed a plan that was truly pro-life.

      Regarding getting people insured, this plan, as written, will likely make people become uninsured as private health insurance premiums go up. Exactly how do you think an excise tax will make it more affordable? It won’t. How does this plan actually address health care costs? It doesn’t.

      Not to mention the “benefits” of this plan doesn’t start until 2014.

  2. I must respectfully disagree with you Guy. The most important moral imperative here is to protect millions of unborn human beings at a time when society increasingly devalues them, and is willing to sacrifice them in the interest of some other perceived good. That takes precedence over people’s getting insured, even though that is also a moral imperative. However the crucial fact is both imperatives can be served at the same time. There is no need to fund elective abortion in any health care bill. In fact elective abortion is not only not health care. It is the antithesis of good health care and a social evil that can only bring evil results in the long run. Why does the government have to say to us, the people, “You can have universal health insurance but only if you fund elective abortion coverage as well?” The bishops want universal coverage. They have frequently stated that, even in the face of criticism from some quarters. But they do not want it if it means funding elective abortion.

    1. @Joanne, It just shows you how entrenched the pro-abortion lobby is. All Congress has to do to get their backing is make an absolute concrete assurance that there is no funding, not even backdoor funding.

      And then they’ll have the backing of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops. But pro-choice legislators won’t let that happen because they really care more about their ideology than actually getting the health care reform done.

  3. I suspect those who support the current free enterprise health insurance industry like what is going on in DC.. pretty obvious that health insurance PACs have had a huge influence on the legislation.. their stock prices are doing very well. I wonder if there is a Roman Catholic PAC? If so I wonder if they had any influence on the bills?

    The legislation does seem to resemble the GOP sponsored Medicare RX program in that it does not really contain costs but benefited drug and insurance companies. Sigh.. the parties change but the influence of lobbyist PACs stay the same.
    .-= Kansas Bob´s last blog ..Home Office with a View =-.

    1. @Kansas Bob, Bob, the ones ultimately hurt by this legislation will be us as it will raise insurance premiums.

      I heard from a Wall St. analyst that the increased stock prices were due to a “sigh of relief” as the Senate version wasn’t as bad as they were expecting. So I wouldn’t read too much into that yet. They had been down.

      With drug prices, I totally agree with you that they are too high. The main concern I have with fiddling with drug prices though is how will that impact R&D? With new patents on drugs they do try to recupe R&D money because once generics become available the prices do way down. I guess wonder how many new drugs come out of countries with socialized medicine… not too many I would guess. No incentive.

      1. @Shane Vander Hart – Time seems to agree with you Shane about stocks:

        “First of all, the stock market is volatile and this is a piece of legislation that would be implemented over decades, so looking at a one-day or one-week bump in stock prices as evidence of anything is pretty dicey. But more importantly, the Senate bill would fundamentally transform the way the health insurance industry works. The coverage business, for example, now operates on the principle of underwriting – figuring out how much individual customers might incur in health costs and setting premiums rates accordingly. This whole practice of basing prices on health status would end under reform. Now throw in the end to pre-existing condition exclusions and rescissions. Now consider that insurers will be required to sell coverage to everyone. The health insurance industry will be turned on its head. Investors in health insurance companies believe the transformation will mean more business. Senate bill supporters know this but they also believe that the insurance industry transformation will benefit consumers. These two effects are not mutually exclusive.”

        Read more: http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/12/22/a-christmas-gift-for-the-insurers/#ixzz0apZfeJRf
        .-= Kansas Bob´s last blog ..Saying Goodbye to CDs, Yellow Pages, Faxes.. =-.

  4. The USCCB is the conference of our world region’s shepherds of God’s flock. They are somewhat like Justices of our Supreme Court. They can and do differ over what exactly The Catholic Church teaches about various things. They are, however, accountable to God and the Bishop of Rome for their moral and theological stand on social issues. We Catholics believe that Jesus appointed His strongest disciple, Simon Peter, to be the head of His Church according to scripture. With the knowledge that Peter would not live forever, it can be logically derived that Peter would be succeeded by other men who would carry on as the Vicar of Christ’s Church whose bishop is seated in Rome. We call the Bishop of Rome the Holy Father of our Church; or Pope. Jesus presented His evangelism to the world with Him as the final authority on all issues. The Roman Catholic Church has carried on with that same tradition for nearly two thousand years with inconsistent success, but the Church of Jesus the Christ is, was, and always will be without error because that is what God Himself has instituted to be; no matter what corrupted men try to do to the Bride of Jesus. While the leaders of the USCCB are strong in their stand for the lives of the innocents, the unborn, others will for inexplicable reasons twist the logic of the Word Incarnate (Jesus) to fit their own agenda.

    I have personally corresponded with Sister Carol Keehan, DC. She is the ninth president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA). She assumed her duties as of October 10, 2005. She is responsible for all association operations, both at its St. Louis and Washington, D.C., offices. She is a liberal progressive who does in my humble opinion not adhere to the teachings of The Catholic Church. She argues that she does, but I know many priests, sisters, and brothers of my church who do not have the requisite respect for life to be in compliance with the commandments God gave us. They believe that poverty is a more pressing issue, or that one cannot be pro-life unless one agrees that almost any change to the status quo of health care is preferable to no change at all, or that Senator Ted Kennedy was a shining light from heaven to be imitated at all costs. Write me at [email protected] if you would like to view my correspondence with Sister Keehan from July 2009.

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