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.