Health Care Reform

Last Weeks Top-Ten Catholic Posts

Here are this past weeks Top-10 most visited Catholic posts from The American Catholic for June 20-26:

1. Parish Shopping by Michael Denton

2. McChrystal Should Be Fired by Donald R. McClarey

3. Sharia in Dearborn? by Donald R. McClarey

4. G.K. Chesterton on Lincoln by Donald R. McClarey

5. Healthcare Reform & the Magisterium by Chris Burgwald

6. Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 2) by Darwin

7. Toy Story 3 by Michael Denton

8. Planned Parenthood, What Happened to the Money? by D.R.M.

9. Under the Roman Sky by Donald R. McClarey

10. I Am Shocked, Shocked! by D.R. McClarey

Honorable Mentioned

Top 25 Catholic Blogs by Technorati Authority by John Henry

Healthcare Reform & the Magisterium

In this spring’s debate over the healthcare bill, one of the disagreements that raised eyebrows most in Catholic circles was that between the US bishops conference and the Catholic Healthcare Association and other similar groups. The bishops claimed that the healthcare bill would lead to federal funding of abortions, while CHA et al. concluded that it would not.

In my opinion and that of numerous observers (including most of my fellow contributors here at TAC), the bishops were correct and CHA was horribly, terribly wrong.

There is another question, though… was CHA disobedient? That is, were they obliged as Catholics to accept the conclusions of the bishops conference? Was the activity of the bishops conference an act of their teaching charism which American Catholics were obliged to give their assent to?

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U.S. Catholic Bishops' statement on the Health Care Bill: "Profoundly flawed"

USCCB Statement on the recently-passed health care legislation (March 23, 2010):

For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for reform of our health care system so that all may have access to the care that recognizes and affirms their human dignity. Christian discipleship means, “working to ensure that all people have access to what makes them fully human and fosters their human dignity” (United States Catechism for Adults, page 454). Included among those elements is the provision of necessary and appropriate health care.

For too long, this question has gone unaddressed in our country. Often, while many had access to excellent medical treatment, millions of others including expectant mothers, struggling families or those with serious medical or physical problems were left unable to afford the care they needed. As Catholic bishops, we have expressed our support for efforts to address this national and societal shortcoming. We have spoken for the poorest and most defenseless among us. Many elements of the health care reform measure signed into law by the President address these concerns and so help to fulfill the duty that we have to each other for the common good. We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.

Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.

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Far Better Than Nothing

While pro-lifers, conservatives, and conservative pro-lifers all have different reasons for not being very pleased with Stupak and his fellow pro-life Democrats at the moment, because of their caving in to the Senate Bill abortion language and Obama’s vaporware executive order, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that if all Democrats were of the Obama/Pelosi persuasion in regards to abortion, we would undoubtedly have a “health care reform” bill which provided complete subsidies for abortion on demand for poor women, if not all women. The Senate language is not nearly as good as Stupak’s, and even with Stupak’s language included I think that the bill would have been deeply irresponsible for financial reasons. But let’s face it, the Democrats have a solid majority in the House and had until Brown’s election a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Without some Democrats breaking ranks with their party’s hard core pro-abortion platform, there would have been no way for the pro-life movement to keep the most extreme support for abortion possible out of the bill.

And while Stupak’s last minute flake-out is disappointing from a pro-life perspective (if he’d stuck to his guns, I would have happily donated to his re-election fund, simple because I admire steadfastness to pro-life principle, even in someone I disagree with on other issues) let’s also be honest about this: Those of us who retain a belief in fiscal responsibility and oppose statism would have been disappointed in the health care bill passing even with Stupak’s language. So while I admired his apparent steadfastness to pro-life principle, I like many other conservatives also appreciated that fact that his principle (had he stuck to it) would have resulted in the bill not passing. We can hardly be surprised that he didn’t share such a hope.

Health Care Predictions

In the debate over the now-passed health care reform bill, a great number of statistics were brought out as to why the US desperately needed a bill like this: Numbers of bankruptcies supposedly caused by high medical costs and lack of insurance.  Numbers of people who supposedly died each year because of lacking health insurance.  Infant mortality rates, etc.  With the bill now passed, Megan McArdle is curious to see those who supported it make some firm commitments as to what the results will be over the next five years:

1) Ezra Klein is confidently predicting that it will save hundreds of thousands of lives.
2) Nick Kristoff expects miraculous improvement in our national life expectancy.
3) Michael Moore thinks this will stop people from getting thrown out of their homes in a Medical bankruptcy.
4) At least one of you must be willing to claim massive improvements in infant mortality, after you’ve cited those statistics to me over and over.

These sorts of things should all be pretty easy to measure, and McArdle goes on to make her won eight predictions in regards to the effectiveness of the bill: Continue reading

What We Know Now

As it so happened, I was in Washington DC on that National Mall as congress was voting on the mess which is our “health care reform” bill. I hadn’t been to our capitol city before, and it was a simply beautiful afternoon — one on which it was hard to believe that our elected representatives were bringing us one large step closer to a major budgetary crisis point, and Representative Stupak was busy selling out the principles everyone had imagined to be as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar for a rather paltry executive order which may (or may not) come after the fact. (Call me a cynic, but I could well imagine the EO never coming. Though in a sense, why not issue it: It would have no effect and could be repealed at any time. Still, there would be a great deal of justice and truth in Obama using the old Microsoft line, “Your mistake was in trusting us.”)

Still, though sun, green grass, and stone monuments are fresh in my mind, and the largest looming problems in my mind revolve around children wailing that they need a bathroom right now while traveling on the metro (let’s just say that didn’t end well) I don’t want to seem as if I’m discounting the importance of what we’ve just seen. And there seem to be some fairly clear conclusions we can draw:

1) Stupak had no desire to be to abortion what Joe Lieberman chose to be to foreign policy. Lieberman was hounded out of his party and continues to hold office only because of people who disagree with him on nearly every other issue admired his principled stands on Iraq, Israel, etc. If Stupak had brought down the Health Care Reform bill in defense of the unborn, he would have received similar treatment from his own party to what Lieberman has received, and he clearly didn’t want to be that person. Instead, having talking himself into a corner he really didn’t want to be in, he seized upon a fig leaf when it was offered and did what he’d clearly wanted to do all along:

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Lets, Not, Make a Deal

No one seems to know where Stupak’s head it is at from moment to moment. A facebook friend of mine just sent me a twitter from CNN that reads:

Urgent — Rep. Stupak to CNN producer Lesa Jansen: “I’m still a no…There is no deal yet. Its a work in progress.”

Any “deal” that is acceptable to the radical pro-abortion bloc of Democrats that have threatened to vote “no” on the bill if substantial pro-life guarantees are included is not good enough.

If Stupak agrees to this absurd idea of an executive order, he will set back the cause of pro-life Democrats and disappoint the millions of pro-life Americans who, many for the first time ever, really believed that a pro-life Democrat could accomplish something in Washington.

Update: It’s 1:10 here in CA, and I just heard it from Stupak’s mouth on CSPAN – he’s made the deal. Obamacare will pass. May God have mercy on our souls!

Health Care Reform and the Great Switch

Personally, I thinks it’s fairly likely at this point, that one of the current “health care reform” bills will become law. However, though I come to this with characteristic lateness (increasing busy-ness seems to make topical blogging near impossible) I think it’s worth spending a moment on one of the fascinating contradictions which has gone mainly unremarked in the whole debate.

One of the primary arguments put forward by advocates of health care reform over the last 2-3 years has been, essentially, that health insurance companies are evil. People froth at the industry term of “medical losses” for when insurance companies pay out for medical expenses. (Something which, in fact, happens with over 80% of the monies collected in the form of insurance premiums.) Others rail against how the profit motive has destroyed health care and driven costs to astronomical levels — apparently oblivious to the fact that there are several major not-for-profit insurers, and they don’t provide care any more cheaply than for-profit ones. And yet, despite these and many other rhetorical assaults on the whole idea of health insurance as a commercial product, the centerpiece of the proposed health care reform bills was to legally require everyone in the US to purchase health care insurance, and then provide government subsidies for those who couldn’t afford the premiums. (Thus “shoveling” government money into the insurance industry in the same way in which Medicare Part-D, which all good progressives are now against, did with the pharmaceutical industry.)

Why in the world did a movement which had so long railed against private insurance suddenly decide to require and subsidize it, rather than pushing for the government or non-profit approaches to health provision which had so long appealed to it?
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Poll Shows Americans Would Like to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too

The Washington Post has a new poll out which will please both political parties, since the American people in the main agree with both of them. A majority of people want Congress to scrap the current Health Care Reform bills, and a majority also think Obama has done a bad job of handling the health care issue. Yet a majority also want Health Care Reform passed this year and blame Republicans for lack of progress.

Solid majorities think that the current HCR bills are too complex and too expensive, but majorities also approve of the main components: require employers to provide insurance, require people without insurance to buy it, subsidize people who can’t afford insurance, and require insurance companies to give everyone insurance regardless of their medical histories or problems. So basically, people would love the bill as is, so long as it didn’t cost anything and wasn’t complex.

And in the results most likely to give legislators pause: People say they’re looking for new candidates of incumbents in the next congressional election by a 56 to 36 majority. 71% of people disapprove of how congress is doing its job. And of the 62% of the population that has private insurance (15% have MediCare, 3% have Medicaid and 17% have no insurance) 74% trust their insurance companies to do a “good” or “great” job of processing their claims fairly.

If people like the idea of health care reform, but don’t want it to cost anything or be complex, while distrusting congress and trusting their insurance companies, it sounds to me like nothing is likely to happen on the health care front this year.

Bart Stupak: Senate Bill Dead on Arrival

A number of years ago, Gov. Robert Casey warned that health care reform legislation that included public financing of abortion would be “dead on arrival” to Congress. For that very reason as well as several others, the attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system went down in flames.

After the election of now Senator-elect Scott Brown, the Democrats are scrambling to figure out what to do about health care reform and they might have another  pro-life Democrat problem, a Democrat with the spirit of Casey.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) told CNSNews.com “if they expect the House to accept the Senate bill, it’s going to go down in flames.”

CNSNews.com asked Stupak: “Are you prepared to vote for a bill that looks more like the Senate bill – and Senator Nelson’s language on abortion – than the House bill, with your language?” He replied, “No, absolutely not.”

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Health Care Conference

It appears that Democratic leadership is going to forgo the customary conference process to reconcile the House and Senate health care reform bills. Instead it will be negotiated between Democratic leaders from both chambers and the Obama administration, to the exclusion of Republican lawmakers.

See the following headlines:

With Few Options, GOP Continues Health Care Fight

Dems intend to bypass GOP on health compromise

Health talks resume with W.H. meet

C-SPAN CEO to Democrats: Televise the Health Care Reform Negotiations

Stupak Pledges to Hold Firm

As he comes under increasing pressure from the Obama administration, Congressman Bart Stupak is publicly stating that he and his colleagues in the House will stand firm on pro-life principles and reject any bill that allows public funding of abortion.

At this point I am fairly certain I don’t want the Obama administration to have a thing to do with my health coverage. Nor am I convinced that a bill which leftists, libertarians, and conservatives (do I really need to link anything?) are rejecting and deriding – for different reasons, of course – is really going to end up helping the poor. Whether it is a massive giveaway to insurance companies, an unwelcome and unaffordable expansion of government power and control, or both, I see no compelling reason to support the bill, even without public funding of abortion.

If Stupak is successful and abortion funding is out of the final bill, there are at least 40 House Democrats who have pledged to vote against it (because the right to have the government pay for the murder of one’s own children is more important than insuring the poor, I guess). That will probably kill it. And if he fails, he has hinted that he and at least 10-12 of his colleagues will vote no on the bill, which may be enough to kill it.

So, either way, I say, go Bart go, Godspeed. Because if this monstrosity does get passed, I’d at least like to know that our tax dollars aren’t funding child murder. Pro-life Democrats have demonstrated their ability to influence and even steer the course of national policy. In my view, that is a positive thing no matter what else results.

Political Doublethink…Again.

The epidemics of amnesia, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, self-hypnosis, and intellectual doublethink are on the rise in Washington—rising faster, by the calculation of some spectators, than our national debt.

It goes without question that there are things on record some would prefer to forget or never have mentioned again. Republican lawmakers, influenced by political expediency or historical confusion, presented themselves in the latter part of this year as the champions of Medicare. The glaring absurdity of GOP Medicare scare-tactics somehow passed under the radar of the majority of critics, who most certainly had their eyes fixed on the Democrats.

Just recently Senator Hatch (R-Utah) decided that he would not let the year close without displaying one more case of Republican intellectual doublethink—one so incredible that is absolutely mind-boggling to the habitual political observer who realizes that the GOP is going to ride to victory in 2010 not just on the failures of Democratic leadership, but on the sweeping epidemic of American political amnesia. Continue reading

Fact Checking Republican Medicare Scare-Tactics

Where is the so-called liberal media?

Not too long ago, I pointed out the (more than) obvious lies of the Republican Party as it relates to Medicare and seniors. Just this past week, I was watching C-SPAN as the Senate debated and voted on a few amendments. In the course of events, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) led the charge as a number of Republican legislators demonstrated a politically common, but unfortunate, phenomenon coined as “doublethink”—that is to hold two contradictory realities to be simultaneously true. It is either this, or they are consciously and flagrantly lying. There are no other possibilities. So here we go again… Continue reading

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