EWTN: The World Over – Arroyo interviews head of Catholics for Obama and Bp. Morlino (Fr. Z comments)

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The present episode of EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo features Dr. Stephen Schneck, Chairman of Catholics for Obama, and Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison.

The video of the whole episode is HERE.

Arroyo challenges Dr. Schenck especially about how he can support the Democrat Party’s platform.  It gets a little fiery.  Interesting.

One of the things that Arroyo asks Bp. Morlino concerns Sr. Simone Campbell’s claim that the US Bishops condemned Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.  Morlino clarifies that a committee of the Conference, not the US bishops, offered an opinion.  He also talks about the different roles of bishops and laity in making prudential judgments about moral contingent choices which don’t necessarily concern the promotion of intrinsic evils (e.g., job creation or entitlement reform v. promotion of tax-payer funded abortion).

One of the best quotes is that “laypeople do not need the bishops permission to do authentic lay ministry”.  Bingo.

Bp. Morlino also reminds us that women religious (e.g., Sr. Simone Campbell) are technically lay people, but we don’t look to them, as someone who is called to live the consecrated life, to engage in political issues in the same way that lay people must.

He also gets into the problem of politics becoming a pastoral problem. There is a polarization between pro-life Catholics and pro-social justice Catholics. This is something I wish he had had more time to expand on. He brings up the point that, this political season sees an even deeper polarization. Moreover, “Why are political considerations more basic in a believer than faith considerations?”

If I can be so bold as to comment on the issue raised by Bp. Morlino, …

… I respond saying that the root of the problem is the separation of abortion from social justice.

The right of an innocent child to life, no matter how the child was conceived, is THE social justice issue! There is nothing more basic to justice (that which is due) than the right to life itself, as God has given it. Those who promote abortion have successfully tricked people into thinking that abortion is a women’s issue. We must reconnect our moral arguments about abortion and the right to life to properly understood social justice.

UPDATE:

The USCCB committee letter, from the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, to the US House of Representative’s Committee on Agriculture is HERE.

This is the letter some claim represents a condemnation by “the bishops” of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposals.

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43 Responses to EWTN: The World Over – Arroyo interviews head of Catholics for Obama and Bp. Morlino (Fr. Z comments)

  1. GT333 says:

    Fr. Z, You hit the nail right on the head! A Catholic cannot compartmentalize abortion from social issues! Abortion is THE social issue that must be dealt with first and foremost. No one in this Country will die for lack of food stamps, and very few for lack of health care, but nearly a million innocent little babies will be aborted in a year! The right to life trumps all issues for without it there are no issues. Now, these so called catholics are trying to convince others that Obama is actually more pro-life than Conservatives because he champions social issues. You have to be capable of incredible denial to buy that concept. How many babies justify a few more food stamps?

  2. yatzer says:

    I have tried to make the point to many that as a Christian , a woman, and a human I am prolife as a social justice issue, and mostly get blank stares. As a young person in the 1960’s I could not understand how everyone could not see the disconnection between the pro-racial civil rights movement at the time and the way abortion was being pushed by the same people. I suspect it was because the idea of all sex all the time clouded their judgement.

  3. I think a truly Catholic consistent life ethic is needed in this day and age. The USCCB calls many issues “life issues”, including many things cafeteria Catholics claim as devoid of the fundamental right to life. All the issues are important, abortion is just currently among the most important.

    I don’t see how it is just a committee speaking, though. The bishops voted on addressing the budget plan, and overwhelmingly approved to go ahead with a 171-26 vote in favor. By reason of this vote, the committee spoke on behalf of the entire Conference. [I don’t think that is accurate. The letter remains a letter of that committee, the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.] The letter even begins by affirming that they are speaking as all the US bishops, not just those on the committee. [The letter actually says, “On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops…” which isn’t quite the same thing. For this truly to be a letter of all the bishops of the conference, the letter would have to be approved by a vote of the conference. Committees tasked with X or Y don’t automatically speak for all the bishops. Furthermore, the opinion of a committee doesn’t bind all the bishops, collectively or individually.] So, either they lied in saying that, or Bp. Morlino is mistaken in saying what he said. [I don’t think those are our only choices. It is also possible that the committee got it wrong or that Bp. Morlino – whom we should assume understands how the conference works better than we do – got it right. For example, the USCCB’s committee talks about cuts to the food stamps program. What the Ryan budget proposals is a cut to the growth of the program, a cut to how much of an increase is given to the program. The program would still grow, but by less. That isn’t a cut to the program. Furthermore, some bishops voiced disagreement with the committee’s letter. In any event, it is accurate to say that the US bishops condemned Ryan’s proposals. That is an over statement.]

  4. Isn’t the support of said committee by 87% of the Conference enough to say “the bishops”? [No. 87% of the bishops did not sign off on that letter.] I’m not doubting that Bp. Morlino understands things better, but I think if such a high percentage of bishops approve of the message it becomes a collective message. They may not be bound individually, but it does seem that they would be bound -and least moreso- as a group. [You are wrong.]

    Should we instead say “87% of the bishops highly critiqued the Ryan budget”? [No, because that would be a ludicrous statement.]

  5. Supertradmum says:

    Dr. Schneck’s comments reminded me of Alinsky: RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” “Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.”

    He also said the mantra in the press the past few days that is was Obama’s direct intervention which changed the vote on God and Jerusalem. POTUS gets the praise.

    Dr. Schneck keeps saying he disagrees with several issues, but uses the repetition of Medicaid cuts (Rule 10) saying that will lower abortion. Raymond did a good job bringing Schneck back to the points. Medicaid was mentioned how many times? (RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.)

    Raymond is not stupid and I think the Dr. underestimated him. Bishop Lori was fantastic and Dr. Schneck again repeated “Medicaid” even after the “intrinsic evil” quotation. The doctor is confused and illogical. Dr. Schneck lied about Obama not pushing civil marriage and abortion. That is just a plain lie. Raymond ignored that and did not follow up.

    Dr. Schneck talked about accommodations. These are not happening.

    As to the Bishop Morlino interview, (who I know is a great man having lived in Madison under his care as a shepherd), and His Excellency brought up intrinsic evil.

    Intrinsic evils must be considered: abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia, and the re-definition of marriage.

    (I still cannot believe Sr. Simone Campbell talked at the DNC) His Excellency said that religious women are not in lay mission in the same way because of their consecrated life. Wow, this is great. When the Bishop referred to the Blessed Virgin, I was astounded and glad that he brought the issue up regarding the distinction between Mary and Sr. Simone. He said the health care plan was objectionable, period.

    I am glad His Excellency explained the process of the binding force of the USCCB. I love the competent layman point and that a budget is a hypothesis. He defended the character of Paul Ryan, which is really cool. Also, the idea of lay mission being emphasized is very good and part of the role of the laity. This has been forgotten in the stupid clericalization of the laity at the expense of forming expertise in lay areas and be holy at the same time.

    Wow, and he said the election season is causing divisions in the Church. He said Faith issues are more important than political issues.

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  7. HeatherPA says:

    Over at Matt Archbold’s blog, he has a little post about Sr. Simone’s theft of Obama’s “above my pay grade” remark regarding abortion.
    “TWS: On the legal question, do you think there should be penalties against abortion doctors? I mean, should it be illegal to perform abortions?

    CAMPBELL: That’s beyond my pay grade. I don’t know.”

    http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2012/09/nun-channels-obama-says-abortion-beyond.html?m=1

  8. dad29 says:

    As a matter of clarification, it is dangerous to use the term “social justice.”

    It’s been observed by Patrick Deneen (ex-Georgetown prof) that the phrase is technically a contradiction in terms, for “justice” properly speaking can only be rendered to individuals, not to ‘classes’ or ‘people.’

    If you care to, Google Patrick Deneen Social Justice; he has a few very tightly-reasoned and clearly-worded blogposts on the matter.

  9. colospgs says:

    It might be news to some, but it is possible to pray in front of the abortion mill, AND volunteer time at the soup kitchen. Just ask me, I do both.

  10. mamajen says:

    I know Second Vatican Council isn’t very popular among the readership here, but they had this to say, which I think is helpful:

    “The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church.”

    I don’t think calling nuns lay people is a great idea. Nuns should not behave like lay people.

    Other than that, though, I agree totally and I’m glad that someone confronted Schenck.

  11. Papabile says:

    @Joseph Antoniello

    I think what is absolutely insane is that no one mentions that the USCCB’s Committee essentially turned +Dolan’s previous correspondence with Ryan on its head.

    Ryan had proactively written to the President of the Conference seeking guidance and clarification on the Republican Budget just the previous year. That was a year the Republican Budget was arguably even more conservative than the one this year.

    Dolan responded in detail to Ryan’s letter. Perhaps the most interesting part was this:

    “It is clear that all of this correspondence reflects recognition of the foundational principles at work. Within the given parameters of such principles, people of good will might offer and emphasize various policy proposals that reflect their experience and expertise. The principles of Catholic social teaching contain truths that need to be applied. Thus, one must always exercise prudential judgment in applying these principles while never contradicting the intrinsic values that they protect.”

    He then says he looks forward to continuing the dialogue….. which of course turned into a nuclear bomb from +Blaire the next year turning +Dolan’s letter on its head.

    See the correspondence here, on the House Budget Committee’s web page:
    http://budget.house.gov/fy2012budget/dolandialogue.htm

  12. Papabile says:

    @FrZ

    Don’t forget the wonderful page the USCCB has up on the whole Budget.

    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/

  13. frjim4321 says:

    If I can be so bold as to comment on the issue raised by Bp. Morlino, … … I respond saying that the root of the problem is the separation of abortion from social justice.

    Wow, for the fifth time in a week I have another major agreement with a sentiment expressed here.

    Lingering effects of the Blue Moon?

    But I guess a corollary to this statement is another part of the problem is the disproportional focus of attention on some social justice issues to the exclusion of some others.

  14. JohnE says:

    Isn’t this the same USCCB committee that oversees the CCHD which funded organizations that promote abortion and gay marriage?
    http://www.reformcchdnow.com/

  15. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    But I guess a corollary to this statement is another part of the problem is the disproportional focus of attention on some social justice issues to the exclusion of some others.

    Abortion is not a social justice issue.

  16. robtbrown says:

    FrJim4321,

    Although the above is a response to you, my comment is intended for those above who also consider abortion to be a social justice issue.

  17. Susie says:

    Dr. Schneck said that 30% of babies in our country are born to women on Medicaid. I was hoping Raymond would ask, “Why are nearly 1/3 of our children born to poor mothers? Under whose policies have we gotten to this point? If you think it is tragic that we will see a 40% lower rate of increase in spending on Medicaid, then are you saying that you think it would be a good thing if the number of babies born to mothers on Medicaid actually increased by 40%? Why don’t we instead have a country that is so prosperous that fewer women need Medicaid?”

    I was surprised that Raymond did not touch on that. 30% of our babies are born into poor families, and Dr. Schneck thinks that that number should go up, not down. That just reinforces the reality that liberals want to see more government dependence. They should want to see fewer people in need of Medicaid.

  18. Phil_NL says:

    @Susie:

    ‘Poor’ in the US usually means a TV, a car, airco and several household appliances. Compared to, say the fifties or sixties, that would describe a nice middle-class home indeed. The point is that as soon as the country gets more affluent, the definition of ‘poor’ shifts, idem for those that ‘need’ medicare. Consequently, don’t believe for a second that if the US would become 10x as wealthy, the number of people on government assistance would decrease – the last time that happened, the number increased, simply because the threshold to qualify changed dramatically too.

  19. Imrahil says:

    Dear @dad29, there definitely is such a thing as social justice. Forgive my “appeal to aristocracy” (as Chesterton would have called it), but Fr Messner deals with that at length in his Social Ethics.

    (On the other hand, I always get uptight when somebody puts the adjective “just” into the comparative. “Fight for a juster world”, etc. Either something is just or it isn’t.)

    As to the main question, with all due respect against points right in themselves, I’m against redefining terms to silence one’s opponents without convincing them. Thus, whether we like it or not, the word “social justice” means 7th/10th-commandment-issues within the area where prudential evaluations have a place. Abortion is a 5th-commandment-issue within the area where prudential evaluations have no place. Abortion is a intrinically-evil-deeds-issue. Abortion is a criminal prosecution issue (even by the classically liberal definition of “crime”); it is a homeland security issue. It is, as the term is used, not a social justice issue.

    Dear @Phil_NL, I agree, and this is why we need to clear our terms by discriminating between wants and needs. I’m not saying that public insurance should not also stand in for some wants (which we as a society decide to grant ourselves), but we must be clear that they are not needs, if only to make discussions possible.

    What makes things more complicated is that there probably is an actual need, not a want, not to be provided for below a certain quality, in reference to the general standard. But we would be shortsighted indeed if we just throw the distinction (between want and need) overboard becomes things start to get difficult.

  20. frjim4321 says:

    Abortion is not a social justice issue. — RB

    Maybe on some other planet, but here on Earth decoupling the abortion issue from other social justice issues is perhaps the primary reason attempts to promote abortion alternatives are ineffective.

  21. Faith says:

    but RobtBrown…read the last paragraph in the article. Abortion is THE social justice issue. And we commentators have continued with that thought in mind.
    What are you thinking? Where are you coming from? I’m trying to understand.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Abortion is a justice issue, but not all justice issues are matters of social justice.

    Social justice concerns specific groups (social classes) within society–that’s why it’s called “social”. For example, the various laws re desegregation, discrimination, and slavery (13sth Amendment) concern social justice are all aimed at non-whites. Ditto Affirmative Action.

    Abortion is no more a social justice issue than murder is–or theft or speeding.

  23. benedetta says:

    The late Cardinal O’Connor’s approach to upholding the sanctity of human life is worth emulating. He extended the invitation of help and support, financial or of whatever form, to pregnant women contemplating or being pressured into aborting their children. The Archdiocese follows through on this promise to this day.

    Clearly though with such a high percentage of people having children out of wedlock, the “cost” of having children is not so prohibitive as some would like to portray at this point in time, nor do people lack for access to free or inexpensive contraception. The problem is that abortion is seen as a decent solution to an unwanted living human person, and so the culture of death must be countered wherever it is celebrated. In this case, the unfortunate celebration of abortion by the DNC has to be challenged where it is.

  24. tealady24 says:

    “The right of an innocent child to life, no matter how the child was conceived, is THE social justice issue! There is nothing more basic to justice (that which is due) than the right to life itself, as God has given it. Those who promote abortion have successfully tricked people into thinking that abortion is a women’s issue.”
    You are absolutely RIGHT Father!
    I wanted to strangle this man! He thought he had an answer for everything and Arroyo could have gone for the jugular but didn’t; I think he too, was so aggravated by what he was hearing.

    These Democraps just don’t get it; you CANNOT belong to a party that well while it espouses sticking up for the poor and the little guy (which is the biggest lie they’ve ever perpetuated), they can somehow talk their way around the abortion issue.
    NO YOU CAN’T!!
    Wake up America

  25. lydia says:

    Since when is it socially just to keep poor children trapped in rotten school systems because one party in this government is captives of the teachers unions? How is it just to keep programs that result in keeping generations of poor people on the plantation and reliant on a handout instead of giving them a hand up. All these programs need to be reviewed for effectiveness. Today we have too many people gaming the system. Too many people riding in the wagon. This country is going broke and there are not enough rich in this country to support these ever increasing expenditures. What % of our taxes used for these programs are spent on the poor and what % on gov. jobs? Since when is it socially just to pass legislation that has done more harm than good for the very people it is suppose to help? We have generations of fatherless families ill educated and unable or unwilling to become productive members of society. I want to feed the hungry, cloth the poor, and give shelter to the homeless but in the most efficient way which is at the community level. I want our programs to provide for the really poor and not just be used to garner votes for democrats who long ago sold the poor out. Fr Jim234 abortion is murder .

  26. benedetta says:

    Clearly abortion is a concern for social justice as well as outright justice. We have only to think of the myriad (millions) of future presidents, teachers, mothers, religious, priests, nurses, doctors, computer programmers, musicians, etc we have lost through the scourge to realize it is indeed a serious violation of the basic precepts of social justice to have it be so widespread in this country. Human abortion should be abolished.

  27. robtbrown says:

    Once again: By definition, social justice is aimed at specific social classes. Abortion, like murder, cuts across all social classes. Therefore, abortion is not a matter of social justice.

  28. Southern Catholic says:

    I agree robtbrown, abortion is an issue of justice, not “social justice.” I actually hate the term “social justice” because it is just a buzz word used to justify one matter of Catholic moral teaching while ignore the rest. If we can’t guarantee the right to life for every human being that God creates, then why does the rest matter?

  29. frjim4321 says:

    “Social Justice” was not a buzzword until Sean Hannity co-opted it as a tag for the concerns of moderate and liberal persons.

  30. eyeclinic says:

    If Mr. Arroyo had simply stated “One may not choose evil in order to obtain a future good”,
    wouldn’t Dr. Schneck’s entire argument dissolve? I’d have loved to see his face in a reply to that.

  31. Southern Catholic says:

    @frjim, groups like NETWORK have been using the term for years to ignore Catholic teachings on life and sexual morality in order to promote their own agendas.

  32. LisaP. says:

    Numbers about births and Medicaid are deceptive. There are a lot of factors there that inflate the numbers.

    For one thing, folks can’t have a baby any more without insurance. I know some out there will wonder that anyone ever could, but in most places and times insurance was not necessary for a normal, uncomplicated birth. There is a move by many to home births and midwifes, but let’s face it, this is largely a privilege of the middle and upper classes. The poor need to go to a hospital and be delivered by an OB, and that’s thousands of dollars. Women under a certain income level become eligible for Medicaid coverage if they are pregnant, and the children are then eligible. So what you are likely to have is a lot of women who are *not* on Medicaid that get on Medicaid when they get pregnant. It’s not that they are poor and get pregnant, it’s that once they get pregnant they are now classified as poor.

    There are also women who become poor because of the ridiculously inflated cost of raw health care in the U.S. I know one family that had preemie twins and were uninsured at the time of birth (outsourced department). There were no serious complications requiring surgery or anything like that, just extra time in the hospital and on oxygen. The bill? $250,000. Unbelievable. You don’t have to be poor to have that absorb all your assets. But here’s the kicker — if you don’t have money to pay a bill like that, the hospital “helps” you get on Medicaid, which you can do up to three days after the expense. Why? Because then the hospital gets paid.

    It’s all an unholy mess, but my point is that the stats about poverty and birth fall into the lies, damned lies and statistics cliche. Don’t believe them, even if accurate, they are anything but true.

  33. amenamen says:

    Undefined term?

    The term “social justice” has become horribly misused in public discourse. Politicians use it to mean almost anything they want it to mean, and to justify the most absurd kinds of ideology. When morally dissolute, patently unjust, pro-abortion politicians today speak of their passion for “social justice”, many of us wonder how they can speak so perversely, and how they can pretend to be paragons of justice, or of any other virtue.

    The term “social justice” has been used frequently in papal encyclicals for the past century, but I cannot find a precise definition of it anywhere. It seems to be a term that could possibly describe a virtue practiced by an individual, but usually, it simply “describes” the condition of a society in which principles of justice are widely observed. I think it is something similar to an older expression, “general justice” (or “legal justice”), as opposed to “commutative justice” or “distributive justice.” The expression seems to have originated in the writings of an Italian Jesuit named Luigi Tapparelli in the middle of the nineteenth century.

    Could anybody hazzard a concise definition of the term that is universally accepted by Catholic authors?

  34. Papabile says:

    Schneck is a jerk. I had him as a college professor at CUA twenty years ago in the Politics Department at CUA. He was a committed leftist then, and remains the same now. Abortion was raised more than once and he always pooh-poohed it as an issue, equating it with children raised in welfare families as if they were issues on the same level.

    @robtbrown In large part, I agree with you about abortion not being a social justice issue. However these “faithful” dissenting Catholics treat the unborn child as if it were an entirely different social class, turning it into an issue of social justice. It’s really quite unbelievable.

    @frjim4321 What planet have you been living on? “Social justice” has been a buzzword since the early 80’s among those who think that their ilk entirely misrepresents and dissents the social teaching of the Magisterium.

  35. Susie says:

    Another point that Dr. Schneck made: He doesn’t think that we will see any impact on abortion laws by electing Romney. He may very well be right on that, but one thing we can be sure of, there will be an enormous impact on the unborn and on our forced participation in abortion if Obama is re-elected. Dr. Schneck repeats and repeats his claim of a 40% reduction in Medicaid, which is purposely inaccurate, yet he feels it is important to elect Obama for the sake of the unborn who might be aborted if Ryan’s budget were enacted. Is Dr. Schneck kidding me? Nancy Pelosi herself has indicated that we need to increase the use of contraception and abortion because they are money savers! He is pushing for the election of the party that wants to save money by preventing children’s births! And he wants me to believe that the unborn would be better off under Democrats than under Republicans?

    He also avoided answering the question about what will happen to our economy if the spending on these programs is not brought under control. What is the impact on the poor if the economy implodes?

    Lydia, I totally agree: “Since when is it socially just to pass legislation that has done more harm than good for the very people it is suppose to help?” I, too, want to help the poor, but I want to truly help them, and I want there to be as few of them as possible, not by neutering them or encouraging them to abort their children, but by having a healthy economy and sane economic policies.

  36. Susie says:

    Lisa P., good points about Medicaid covering pregnant women. This is something that needs to be addressed. Any pregnancy brings with it the risk of enormous hospital costs for the mother and/or the baby. We need to have policies and laws that leave fewer women uninsured. We need to look at changing the way people obtain insurance, including separating insurance coverage from employment. A couple should not be uninsured because one is or both are out of work. A family should be able to purchase a realistically-priced policy that would leave them paying annual premiums and deductibles, but does not leave them at risk of being financially devastated by impossibly-high medical bills. There should be freer competition among insurance providers so that families can obtain fairly priced insurance. If Dr. Schneck would focus on these matters, he would not have to be concerned about imaginary 40% cuts in Medicaid.

  37. LisaP. says:

    Susie,
    Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely.
    And remember that the link between insurance and employment is something the government encouraged through tax policy — it’s not only the poor that the federal government has “helped” into a corner.
    I’d go so far as to say in a truly reformed health financing situation, you wouldn’t need insurance to pay for having a baby, unless there was a problem. Average insurance for a family probably runs about $1300 a month, catastrophic insurance runs about $700 a month, and that’s without the cost reductions you’d see under your system. If a family saved $600 a month in premiums, that’s $7200 a year, and if a regular delivery cost less than $3,000 (which is certainly should, we’re talking a few hours of skilled medical labor and a night in the hospital, most of the work is done by an unpaid volunteer!) then you could pop out a couple kids a year and still come out well ahead! Insurance could be there for only catastrophic needs, and with the middle man cut out there would be fewer events that cost catastrophically because the price should go down for most procedures. I find it frustrating that no sides of the debate seem interested in this approach.

    Sorry for the derail, this angle is near and dear to me and when I saw you and Phil NL comment I wanted to chime in!

  38. robtbrown says:

    Lisa,

    Hospital bills are high because of the costs of technology and highly trained personnel. Medicine can accomplish some remarkable things, and most require the use of expensive equipment. We can have the health costs of 1972, but we’ll also have to forget about all the advancements of the past 40 years.

  39. LisaP. says:

    robtbrown,

    Medical bills in general are high for many, many reasons. One very important reason is definitely because the product is more advanced (both services and items). Another reason is the oft-cited litigation / malpractice insurance factor.

    But I’ve seen behind the curtain over the last few years, because of a fairly unique situation for my family, and it is my opinion that medical costs are much higher than the above factors would make them on their own. First, we have a huge — I mean immense — layer of middle men in insurance and billing (and government for a large sector of the population). Second, we have a lack of direct accountability because most people have someone else paying just about every single medical bill for them. As an example, my kid had an appointment with an excellent GI doctor, who pushed her stomach and talked to her a lot, we had about 20 minutes of her time and 25 minutes of her nurse’s time. The billing without insurance would have been $600. That’s insane. No one would pay that if they saw it, no matter how much they admired the doctor’s credentials. After insurance negotiations, her fee was $300. Still, most Americans would consider free market alternatives that would drive down the cost of the service if the fee were paid directly. But it’s not. Insurance pays, most people don’t even see the full charge unless it’s in a deductible. The only thing most people care about is their copay, which is identical for all specialists so there’s no point in considering cost when shopping around for a doctor. Insurance pays these ridiculous charges because they pass on the cost in premiums, which are paid by a corporation that is encouraged by the government to do so. The consumer sees neither the cost of the service nor the cost of the insurance premiums. He only cares what his part is — most people who get employer-provided insurance haven’t the least idea how much (or even that) the company pays each month. Don’t get the impression this is a windfall for the medical providers, either. Two factors come in there. First, the suppliers that serve them smell money and charge stupid prices for what they sell them — mostly, this means an enslaving level of debt coming out of med school. Second, there are the folks who cannot pay and have no insurance. Medicaid pays for them, or no one, and the shortfall has to be made up for with the people who do pay. As an example, I heard of one hospital charge of over $10,000 than got negotiated down into the hundreds for the patient paying; another was covered by Medicaid at 1/7th the original charge.

    I’m grateful for the good medicine and care we can get here (although we don’t always get it, because obstructed market forces affects the quality of care, also). The problem is that even though I would pay everything for insulin for my kid, because nothing is more important than that, you can’t run an economic system valuing life-saving and prolonging medicine in those terms. Reason has to come in, and the scales have to be fair. We pay over $400 a month for one healthy kid’s medical supplies and premiums. The guy that discovered insulin, Bunting, if he knocked on my door tomorrow and asked for my left arm I’d give it to him in gratitude. But that doesn’t mean the Eli Lily has the right to demand unlimited payment for the insulin they manufacture today. It’s complex.

  40. LisaP. says:

    Banting. Good grief!

  41. dad29 says:

    Imrahim, appealing to ‘authority’ is just fine; that’s exactly what I did by citing Deneen, who is ALSO an authority.

    You’ll have to be a bit more explicit. Does your authority, Fr. Messer, claim that ‘justice’ pertains to ‘classes’? That (e.g.) theft-by-fraud deprives “classes”, not “individuals” of their property?

  42. wmeyer says:

    “Medical bills in general are high for many, many reasons.”

    Actually, most of the reasons come back to one: government intervention. When regulations are added, costs increase, whether in pharmaceutical plants, hospitals, clinics, or the local office of your GP. Similarly, insurance costs increase due to added regulation. And for two years I worked on the development of a software tool for small office practice medical billing. I can tell you from personal experience that the complexity of the paperwork is beyond belief.

    And yes, legal costs form suits are a factor, but these are secondary to the regulation costs, and may even be viewed as yet another cost of regulation.

    People have been conditioned to think that medical costs, all costs, should be paid by insurance, and that the insurance should be a benefit of employment. Total fantasy. One of the problems in government health care is that the patient no longer pays, and hence is chattel, with no voice, no standing, in the process.

    We need to ween ourselves from the current model of insurance, pay for our own office visits, meds, and so on, and buy insurance to protect us from the unpredictable costs, such as broken bones, surgery, and so on. Then only can we begin to see medical costs reduce. But of course, that also means we must push the politicians to roll back decades of unrealistic and unaffordable regulations.

  43. LisaP. says:

    wmeyer,

    Yes. And don’t forget that our current normal, which no one realizes doesn’t have to be, where most insurance is employer-provided, was government engineered through tax policy.

    There’s a Belloc/Chesterton theory that if the government allows power to be consolidated into a few private hands, it will be easier to put them up against the wall when it’s time to take all the power itself. This has so proven true for health financing. Instead of millions of people paying their own bills and paying for their own insurance for catastrophic events, you have a few insurance companies paying everything, companies individuals don’t get to pick from. The new reform forces every American to sign on with one of these few companies. When it comes time to say, “This isn’t working, we have to take over” people will be so accustomed to other people paying bills for them and other people making decisions for them it wont’ really matter to them whether it’s their insurance company or the government.

    Medical research and regulation is its whole own animal, too. Much of not only the cost but the *direction* of research into technology, pharmaceuticals, and therapies is determined by the regulatory environment, it’s incredibly distorted and keeping us from cures and treatments.