USCCB: Senate health care bill “deficient”

From the USCCB:

BISHOPS CALL SENATE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL ‘DEFICIENT,’ ESSENTIAL CHANGES NEEDED BEFORE MOVING FORWARD
 
Seek to retain federal policy on abortion funding and conscience protection
Want to protect access to health care that immigrants have now, remove barriers to access
Need strong provisions for adequate affordability and coverage standards
 
WASHINGTON—The current health care reform bill is “deficient” and should not move forward without “essential changes,” the chairmen of three committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said December 22.
            The chairs, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, of the Committee on  Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, of the Committee on Migration, stated their position in a December 22 letter to senators working to pass the Senate version of health reform legislation.
            The entire letter can be found at http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/letter-to-senate-20091222.pdf.
            The legislative proposal now advancing “violates the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions — a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment as well as in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program — and now in the House-passed ‘Affordable Health Care for America Act,’” the bishops said.
They said that the health care bill passed by the House of Representatives “keeps in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy against government funding of elective abortions and plans that include elective abortions” and “ensures that where federal funds are involved, people are not required to pay for other people’s abortions.” The Senate bill does not maintain this commitment.
In the Senate version, “federal funds will help subsidize, and in some cases a federal agency will facilitate and promote, health plans that cover elective abortions,” the bishops said. “All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions in a very direct and explicit way, through a separate premium payment designed solely to pay for abortion. There is no provision for individuals to opt out of this abortion payment in federally subsidized plans, so people will be required by law to pay for other people’s abortions.”  The public consensus against abortion funding, said the bishops, “is borne out by many opinion surveys, including the new Quinnipiac University survey of December 22 showing 72 percent opposed to public funding of abortion in health care reform legislation."
            This bill also continues to fall short of the House-passed bill in preventing governmental discrimination against health care providers that decline involvement in abortion,” the bishops said. And it also “includes no conscience protection  allowing Catholic and other institutions to provide and purchase health coverage consistent with their moral and religious convictions on other procedures.”
            The bishops also called for all immigrants, regardless of status, to be able purchase a health insurance plan with their own money.
 “Without such access, many immigrant families would be unable to receive primary care and be compelled to rely on emergency room care,” the bishops said. “This would harm not only immigrants and their families, but also the general public health. Moreover, the financial burden on the American public would be higher, as Americans would pay for uncompensated medical care through the federal budget or higher insurance rates.”
            The bishops urged removal of the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing federal health benefit programs, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Medicare, which was proposed by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). His proposal, “which would give states the option to remove this ban, should be included in the bill.”
            The bishops said they want health insurance to be affordable and said that while theSenate bill “makes great progress in covering people in our nation,” it “would still leave over 23 million people in our nation without health insurance. This falls far short of what is needed in both policy and moral dimensions.”
The bishops urged Congress and the Administration to “fashion health care reform legislation that truly protects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all.”
Right now, they said, “in all the areas of our moral concern, the Senate health care reform bill is deficient. On the issue of respect for unborn human life, the bill not only falls short of the House’s standard but violates longstanding precedent in all other federal health programs. Therefore we believe the Senate should not move this bill forward at this time but continue to discuss and approve changes that could make it morally acceptable. Until these fundamental flaws are remedied the bill should be opposed.”
            “Regardless of the outcome in the Senate, we will work vigorously to incorporate into the final legislation our priorities for upholding conscience rights and longstanding current prohibitions on abortion funding; ensuring affordability and access; and including immigrants,” they added. “We hope and pray that the Congress and the country will come together around genuine reform.” 

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23 Responses to USCCB: Senate health care bill “deficient”

  1. moon1234 says:

    The bishops also called for all immigrants, regardless of status, to be able purchase a health insurance plan with their own money.

    I still cannot believe that the Bishops are fine with supporting illegal activity. People who have valid work VISAs, legal immigrints, etc. should be able to get health insurance, but I DO NOT WANT my tax dollars going to pay for health care for someone who is violating my countries borders illegally.

    I know I will hear about all of the sad stories about how things are terrible where they come from, etc. This to me is not an excuse. Work to clean up your own country, don’t abandon it. By coming here and demanding health care you are essentially stealing from the rest of us. It is theft pure and simple.

    Asking someone to donate money to a fund to pay for health expenses of those who cannot afford them is fine, maybe even Laudable is the people receiving the funds are legally here and truely in need. Forcing everyone to pay for the health care of people who are here illegally is WRONG.

  2. moon1234 says:

    The bishops urged removal of the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing federal health benefit programs, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Medicare, which was proposed by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). His proposal, “which would give states the option to remove this ban, should be included in the bill.”

    Why should people that have paid nothing into the system get ANY type of immediate beneit from these socalized programs? It is offensive to me to suggest that all of the taxes I have paid in should go immediatly to support someone who has not paid anything in? This is simply robbing the rich and it is wrong.

    Many Dental and Medical plans have a 6 month to a year waiting period to gain benefits after paying in unless you have maintained a constant insurance coverage. This is to prevent people from signing up when they are sick, obtaining beneits until they are well and then stop paying.

    In many cases the people that come to this country, many illegally, want free medical care which usually will cost more than they will ever pay in. They then send some/all of the money they earn out of this country. This robs the local economy of the tax revenue that pays for these and other programs.

    If the Bishops want people to support them on this issue then they need to tell people that it is NOT ok to come here illegally. They are required to go thru the countries legal process to come here. I would be willing to bet that most/all priests from foreign countries traveled here legally and are residing in the US legally. Why should they think the same process can not be followed for everyone else?

  3. Hidden One says:

    I reply to moon1234:

    “Without such access, many immigrant families would be unable to receive primary care and be compelled to rely on emergency room care,” the bishops said. “This would harm not only immigrants and their families, but also the general public health. Moreover, the financial burden on the American public would be higher, as Americans would pay for uncompensated medical care through the federal budget or higher insurance rates.”

  4. EXCHIEF says:

    If the U S Bishops are so concerned about providing health insurance coverage to ILLEGAL aliens I have two suggestions: 1.) Our Bishops should encourage the Bishops in the countries the illegals immigrate from to work harder to improve conditions there so as to remove the incentive for ILLEGAL immigration 2.) If social justice is the over-riding concern of U S Bishops then create a fund to assist such persons by re-directing funds they have given to such organizations as ACORN and others whose work is contrary to Catholic teaching.

    What the Bishops should be doing, but won’t, is opposing the entire health care bill. Even if the three areas of concern in their most recent statement are addressed there are still a host of other areas not mentioned in which the health care bill is flawed from a moral perspective.

  5. In light of the comments about illegal aliens, I think we need to think of it this way. Christ’s message is indeed about caring for the poor and sick without judging their circumstances. If the bishops do mean it in this context then this seems to be a proper call, and those laws which seeks to forbid the Church from offering aid become unjust.

    Likewise, if America is to be converted to a Christian nation, it stands to reason that the laws of the nation must reflect what is just in the eyes of God.

    On the other hand, if any are using our Christian obligation as subservient to a certain political agenda (liberal or conservative) this is an abuse.

    All of us (not just “the other side”) needs to consider this. If we favor not letting illegal immigrants “get away” with coming here, how do we address those in need? If we favor helping all in need, what do we do about those who are here illegally?

    Whichever position we hold, we are still obligated, as Christians, to both behave justly and to care for those in need.

    I don’t pretend to have the answer of course, but it does seem to me that all of us need to be sure that Christ is first in how we judge things and not political platforms.

  6. “Christ’s message is indeed about caring for the poor and sick without judging their circumstances.” I phrased this ambiguously and it could be misinterpreted as limiting Christ’s teaching to the social alone.

    It should read “Christ’s message does include caring for the poor and sick without judging their circumstances.”

    Sorry for the ambiguity

  7. ckdexterhaven says:

    “Right now, they said, “in all the areas of our moral concern, the Senate health care reform bill is deficient. On the issue of respect for unborn human life, the bill not only falls short of the House’s standard but violates longstanding precedent in all other federal health programs.”

    The Catholic speaker of the House says “”abortion language in the Senate bill is very different from the Stupeck Amendment…thank God”-

    And all the bishops do is release this mealy mouthed letter. The bishops need to get themselves on ALL of their local channels, in local parishes and defend the Faithful. They need to forcefully/vocally defend the faithful (IN PUBLIC) from being forced to pay for abortions. Use the media, Bishops! Defend us!

  8. DisturbedMary says:

    Health care reform will be the greatest victory of the Culture of Death in America since Roe v. Wade. A cleverly packaged lie, it pretends to be about mercy, kindness and fairness, while in reality, it is a package of far Left, progressive ideas about the perfect society — that moves the power over our own bodies (temples of the Holy Ghost?) into the hands of Godless bureaucrats. It poses ethical and moral dilemmas to faith and family. It will be the final assault on our Catholic belief about the value and dignity of human life. Bishops, priests and laypeople — all of us — should wake up to the deceit. Instead the bishops seem hoodwinked by what looks to them like a compassionate, just policy with some wrinkles. Ironically, this “care” for the poor and immigrant among us, will be a death sentence for their unborn families. Hispanics will be the ones marched into the abortion woodchipper. That’s what the Culture of Death is all about.

  9. Oneros says:

    I still can’t believe that the pro-choice crowd is willing to risk not getting health-care passed at all merely for the sake of wanting to fund abortions.

    Our side is understandable. We cannot agree with paying for murder, and so obviously would be willing to sink any project, no matter how much other good it did, that directly funds abortion.

    But their side, in the Senate, seems willing to sink it purely to get what is, to them, just one more specific treatment into the coverage. Even though it’s not the price of abortion, an elective procedure, which is the cause of all the suffering regarding medical costs in the US (it’s necessary surgeries and hospital stays which they charge too much for)…

    That WE’D insist on this is understandable. That THEY’D be just as stubborn…makes no sense except that they really are ideologues, and not simply the pragmatists they always try to portray themselves as.

    I wonder, if the US government starts DIRECTLY funding abortions (instead of merely tolerating them/refusing to stop them)…THEN will the government have lost legitimacy. THEN can we stop paying taxes. THEN will the Pope call for us to overthrow it ala Pius V and Elizabeth I?? Then will a resistance movement be advocated? Somehow, still, I doubt it. We’ll get more weaseling by the bishops not wanting to ruin Catholics’ comfort-zone…

    “It is offensive to me to suggest that all of the taxes I have paid in should go immediatly to support someone who has not paid anything in? This is simply robbing the rich and it is wrong.”

    Oh, get off it. Your taxes arent going to fund that. It, and all government programs, are actually being funded by “loans” from usurious financiers who have been given the authority to just make the money up out of thin air (they arent loaning from deposits or anything like that), and then expect more than the principle they create in return.

    Your taxes, in turn, go merely to pay the interest on those loans to the usurers. It is robbery, but it isnt the immigrants who are doing the robbery, it’s the bankers using the coercive power of the State.

    The fact that they’ve convinced you to blame the poor of all people…just shows how utterly manipulative the arrangement they’ve created is to the masses. This is where “conservatives” really get me angry.

  10. DMT says:

    “violates the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions”

    This statement shows the bishops are either liars or ignorant of what’s going on.

    Why do the Bishops keep lying about the current, long-standing federal funding of the murder of babies conceived in rape, incest, or for risk to the mother? These are ‘elective abortion’ and not ‘necessary abortions’. Are these babies lives so worthless in the bishops’ minds that they are not even worth mentioning or considering?

  11. DMT says:

    Oneros said: “Our side is understandable. We cannot agree with paying for murder, and so obviously would be willing to sink any project, no matter how much other good it did, that directly funds abortion.”

    Exactly right, Oneros! This is the reason it was also wrong for the bishops, and any Catholic, to support or vote for the Stupak/Nelson amendments that consented to fund the murders of babies conceived in rape, incest, or for risk to the mother (according to statistics there are 160 000 of those babies per year murdered using federal funds)

  12. ssoldie says:

    We have come to this time in America, because in the last 50 years we have NOT had in the Church shepherds(Bishops)who would lead in the Catecesis of the Catholic Faith, it has been so watered down, so as to appease the modernist thinking of the liberal progressive’s in the Church and out of the Church. St. John Eudes said: “The most evident mark of God’s anger, and most terrible castigation He can inflict upon the world, is manifest when He permits His people to fall into the hands of a clergy who are more in name then in deed, priests who practice the cruelty of ravening wolves rather then the charity and affection of devoted shepherd’s. They abandon the things of God to devote themselves to the things of the world and, in their saintly calling of holiness, they spend their time in profane and wordlly persuits. When God permits such things, it is a very positive proof that He is thoroughly angry with his people, and is visiting His most dreadful wrath upon them”.

  13. robtbrown says:

    Oneros.

    The pro abortion side holding out makes sense because they see abortion and universal care as being pilars in the temple of economic and social progress.

  14. wmeyer says:

    moon1234: I cannot believe, as clear as is the cathechism on the responsibilities of citizenship, that they a) do not support that position (CCC 2241), and b) have taken so weak a position on this “health reform.”

    To save anyone needing to look it up, CCC 2241 is here:
    “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

    Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”

    With all respect to our bishops, I have found the statements of position from the USCCB to be late in coming, too few in number, and far too weak in what they say. One result is that the cafeteria Catholics — including those in elected office — continue to make menu choices, rather than embrace doctrine.

    (Emphases mine.)

  15. boko fittleworth says:

    Our bishops are just faux-life liberal Dems looking for the right language to hide behind.

  16. wmeyer says:

    Our bishops are just faux-life liberal Dems looking for the right language to hide behind.

    I do so hope you are very wrong. In certain cases, I am certain you are. Our most outspoken bishops have taken positions which are neither liberal nor Democrat.

  17. moon1234 says:

    Hidden One:

    My answer to illegals not having health care is to deport them. Would you allow a theif to remain in someones home stealing their money or do you arrest and prosecute them? In the case of illegals, they are STEALING (I think there is a commandment about that) from ALL of the American people. This is no different.

  18. moon1234 says:

    wmeyer:

    You have it correctly. I am not against immigration. What I am against is people running across the border, demanding “free” services and not following the laws of immigration that countless others have.

    Even the German, Irish, Italian, etc. immigrants went thru Ellis Island and were “documented”. The people coming in now, sneak across the border, use stolen or made up Social Security numbers to get jobs, lie on their job applicans, many drive cars with no license, most don’t both to learn English well enough to have a 5 minute conversation, etc. etc.

    The immigrants that came 100 years ago made a concerted effort to become and American. Many that are running across the border are doing it for the free services/employment and have no intention of becoming American.

    I am not against helping people in need. I am against being exploited by someone who thinks they are entitled to come here and use services they have not helped to pay for.

  19. amylpav22 says:

    In no way, shape, or form will this health care bill be administered in accordance with Christian teaching. It will turn people into commodities, serfs of the state to be controlled and discarded when we are no longer considered productive or worthy of services.

    On top of it all, there is no conceivable way Catholics who hold to the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life will be allowed to continue working in health care; conscience objections will not be allowed. And it is wholly foreseeable that the day comes when pregnancies are limited because maternity care is expensive.

    I’m all for providing for the poor and needy. This health bill is not the way to do it. In fact, it is the exact opposite of what we should be supporting – which are ways to make health care affordable so people have the ability to pay for it on their own, which is far more becoming to the dignity of an individual than being on the dole. I’m talking here about tort reform, repealing mandates on coverage, lifting the ban on interstate insurance purchases.

    That will never happen.

    Read some of the stories out of Canada, the UK, Cuba and see how utterly contrary they are to caring for anyone.

  20. bookworm says:

    “If we favor not letting illegal immigrants “get away” with coming here, how do we address those in need? If we favor helping all in need, what do we do about those who are here illegally?”

    Well, here’s how I see it. With regard to illegal/undocumented immigrants, I think it is fine for the Church, individuals, or private entities to offer material assistance (food pantries, Christmas gift collections, clothing drives, etc.) paid for with their OWN money, to anyone in need without being obligated to check their residency status first. Jesus didn’t ask us to check for immigration papers before feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. Also, the Church should not be obligated to verify immigration status for parish participation or membership, as that is not a “qualification” for attending Mass or receiving the sacraments.

    However, when it comes to GOVERNMENT (i.e. taxpayer) funded services such as Medicaid, work permits, driver’s licenses, etc. the government has every right to set eligibility standards for them that include being a LEGAL resident or citizen. If these eligibility standards were consistently enforced, that alone would discourage many illegal immigrants from coming to the U.S. and would encourage many of those already here to leave.

    For various reasons — not the least of which is the fact that illegal immigrants do pay federal taxes and pay into the Social Security system on their fake/stolen numbers in great enough numbers to actually reduce the Social Security deficit — the federal government and many states simply do not enforce these laws, and make little or no effort to control the problem. I suspect that Uncle Sam is allowing illegals to “contribute” the Social Security taxes that AREN’T being paid by all the children the Baby Boomers either aborted or never concieved…

  21. CarpeNoctem says:

    On the pro-life front, I wonder if the hubris on part of the healthcare reformers is to presume that Roe v. Wade is a fait accompli. What if abortion-on-demand were overturned by the Supreme Court and what if the over-reaching of abortion “rights” into healthcare is the way that a full judicial review were to take place?

    Wishful thinking, I know, but I can’t imagine that a healthcare bill containing a tax, essentially, to provide elective abortion can pass constitutional muster… even with the Supremes we have today…

    …or maybe the world has gone crazy, after all.

  22. Supertradmom says:

    Well, the bill has passed and now the extreme pro-abortion groups can hammer out a compromise bill, which will not be acceptable to the vast majority of Americans. How ironic that funding for abortion passed on the Eve of the Incarnate One being born in our midst. God have mercy on us all.

  23. KAS says:

    I wonder, don’t the Bishops realize that no matter what the bill says, once the government takes over health care, it WILL add legislation forcing all taxpayers to pay for abortion, artificial birth control and the many other anti-life evils prevalent in our culture.

    I cannot be OK with the passing of any health care bill that places me in the position of participating in evil even against my will. At least if I fight it to the bitter end I will not be culpable for the evils paid for by my taxes because at NO point did I support ANY form of this bill.