CNS: “‘Catholic’ Health Ass.” backs bill, USCCB says NO!

From CNS with my emphases and comments:

CHA backs health bill; bishops reiterate objection to abortion wording

By Nancy Frazier O’Brien
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — "Despite the good" that proposed health reform legislation "intends or might achieve," concerns about the abortion wording in the Senate-passed bill compel the U.S. bishops to "regretfully hold that it must be opposed until these serious moral problems are addressed," Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago said March 15. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

The statement from the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops came soon after the head of the Catholic Health Association called on House members to quickly pass the Senate legislation and make changes later.

A House vote on the health reform legislation was expected by March 20, with Senate and House action to follow on a separate bill containing a set of "fixes" proposed by President Barack Obama. [Can the bill be fixed?]

Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, [whom I believe is paid something in the neighborhood of $850K?  No doubt forked over to her religious community… after her expenses.] said in a March 13 statement that the Senate bill isn’t perfect but would "make the lives of millions more secure, and their coverage more affordable." [And forget about that abortion thing.  And would the bill be good for Catholic health care institutions?]

She told Catholic News Service March 15 that she considered the Senate language "an acceptable way to prevent federal funding of abortion," even if it might not be the best way or the preferred way[WHAT, may I ask, does that mean?  "acceptable" though not "best" or "preferred".  This means, I think, that she doesn’t consider abortion to be of primary concern.  Abortion is acceptable in the face of all these other things.  She sounds like a Pelosi or Biden or Kmiec Catholic.  No?  Am I wrong?]

Cardinal George said in his statement that the USCCB concerns were "not quibbling over technicalities."

"The deliberate omission in the Senate bill of the necessary language that could have taken this moral question off the table and out of play leaves us still looking for a way to meet the president’s and our concern to provide health care for those millions whose primary care physician is now an emergency room doctor," the cardinal said.

He acknowledged that the USCCB analysis "is not completely shared by the leaders" of CHA[There is some diplomatic language.]

They believe, moreover, that the defects that they do recognize can be corrected after the passage of the final bill," Cardinal George said. "The bishops, however, judge that the flaws are so fundamental that they vitiate the good that the bill intends to promote[And the flaw is the actual support of abortion.  Right?]

Pig in a poke"Assurances that the moral objections to the legislation can be met only after the bill is passed seem a little like asking us, in Midwestern parlance, to buy a pig in a poke," he added.

[Meanwhile…] Sister Carol […who can live with funding for abortion…] said in her statement that CHA’s priorities for health care reform were to "protect human life and dignity," including mothers and unborn children, and to "alleviate the suffering of people who cannot afford health insurance or cannot afford the health care they need." [And so she will compromise on the fundamental moral issue of our day.]

She said those who want to pursue abortion coverage in their health insurance would have to "write a separate personal check for the cost of that coverage" and insurance companies would have to be carefully monitored to "assure that the payment for abortion coverage fully covers the administrative and clinical costs, that the payment is held in a separate account from other premiums and that there are no federal dollars used."  [I wonder what flavor koolaid that was mixed with….]

Sister Carol, who was at the White House March 3 for Obama’s announcement of the final push for health care reform, [where I suspect some koolaid was served] also praised the Senate bill for a "wonderful provision … that provides $250 million over $10 years [sic] to pay for counseling, education, job training and housing for vulnerable women who are pregnant or parenting."

A lengthy analysis posted on the USCCB Web site March 12 said the "House-approved health care reform bill follows indispensable and long-standing federal policies on abortion funding and mandates, and conscience rights on abortion, while the Senate bill does not." [I wonder if that is an accurate description of the House bill.  We could use some intelligent and informed discussion of that.]

The USCCB analysis was directed at the points raised by Timothy Stolfzfus Jost, a law professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law and co-author of a casebook widely used in the teaching of health law, in a March 11 article in The Hill newspaper.

"In our judgment, … the Jost analysis is wrong in most of its major claims," the USCCB response said. "The Senate bill’s major flaws are as real as ever and must be addressed."

Jost responded to the USCCB statement with a seven-page memorandum March 14 that said the Senate bill is "far more pro-life than the (USCCB pro-life) secretariat acknowledges, as has now been recognized by the Catholic Health Association and other pro-life organizations, leaders and theologians.[See what confusion they have caused?  This is why we need strong and faithful bishops with guts who are unified.]

"The Senate bill is essentially as pro-life as the House bill, indeed more so on some issues," Jost said. "Pro-life members of Congress should, therefore, be supportive of the Senate bill."

In a letter March 11, Sister Carol urge House members to "move quickly to enact health reform by passing the Senate-approved legislation in conjunction with a second ‘corrections’ bill providing for necessary legislative fixes that will improve the overall package."  [Nice.]

She said the corrections package should include:

— An increase in tax credits for low-income individuals and families.

— A rise in Medicaid primary-care reimbursement rates to Medicare levels.

— Extension of drug discounts for low-income patients to cover drugs dispensed for those patients during hospital stays.

And, Sister Carol said, "the bill should ensure that the final, overall health reform package will provide no federal funding for abortion.[But… it seems to remain that she could live with it even if it doesn’t.]

The USCCB analysis had a similar message on abortion in response to those who, like Jost, see no "significant differences" between the House and Senate bills on abortion.

"If the House leadership believes that to be true, it should substitute the House language on abortion for the Senate language when it makes other changes," the USCCB said.  [But that would ensure that the bill could not pass a vote in the House.]

But Jost said such a recommendation "demonstrates a misunderstanding of the Senate procedures that constrain action at this time." The reconciliation process "can only deal with revenues and outlays of the federal government, which does not include the abortion issue," he said.

"The choice we face, in sum, is the Senate bill or our current health care system," Jost added. "The Senate bill will undoubtedly save many lives through extending insurance coverage to people who cannot afford insurance. It will also in all likelihood make abortion coverage less common than it is now, since people will have to explicitly choose and pay extra for it."  [Kmiec?]

I dunno…. did it seem to you that, by the end of this article, the CNS writer was coming down in favor of Jost’s position against the USCCB?  

Am I wrong?  I am pretty tired.

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  1. becket1 says:

    I didn’t recognize that woman as a Sister. Must be the missing habit.

  2. becket1, I didn’t recognize that sister as a woman.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    And on a positive note: Deo gratias for the courageous bishops! It seems like they are still running off the fire that Pope Benedict XVI lit when he was here!

  4. TomB says:

    Sister Carol is a former longtime health executive herself, and her compensation at Catholic Health Association is $856,093. This in an organization whose expenses are only $17,660,797. Three other employees at CHA each make more than $300,000.


    She says her salary is given to her order.

  5. Clinton says:

    No Father, I don’t think you’re wrong.

    What surprises me is Sr. Keehan’s acceptance of the legislation which, in my understanding, lacks the “robust conscience clauses”
    we were promised by then-candidate Obama during the primaries. Without strong language protecting the conscience of health
    care workers Catholic hospitals and Catholic doctors, nurses, and pharmacists will be forced to either participate in abortions and
    contraception or leave the business (or renounce Catholic identity).

    It’s astonishing that the president of the CHA could support legislation that would be the death warrant for Catholic hospitals.

  6. isabella says:

    Ummm, re the wonderful things the bill does . . . (per the good Sister):

    ” praised the Senate bill for a “wonderful provision … that provides $250 million over $10 years [sic] to pay for counseling, education, job training and housing for vulnerable women who are pregnant or parenting. ”

    Most Crisis Pregnancy Centers (including CSS) also do this with privately funded grants, volunteer labor, and if possible, our own money. They also give out maternity wear, formula, clothing, diapers, wipes, crib blankets, and stuff I don’t even recognize (but the moms do). And many kind people donate NEW baby clothes so the young mothers don’t have to dress their babies in rags. Bah! I’m waiting for the gov’t to top THAT.

    Obama/Nero is going to go down in history as the president who fiddled while the economy burned, because of his obsession with keeping abortion in this bill.

  7. Pretty much all the “good stuff” in government healthcare, particularly for the poor or those who need a little tiding over, is supposed to be things that voluntary Catholic charity is supposed to be providing. Particularly Catholic religious orders that are focused on doing charitable works for the glory of God.

    If the last forty years hadn’t been spent dismantling the orders, shooing away the vocations, using the charitable donations to fund lobbyists, and generally selling off our heritage, the US could have good healthcare coverage for the poor today — provided solely by voluntary donation and the work of religious orders.

    But noooooo. Only the government is allowed to give us social justice, and it’s so much better to restructure US Catholic society away from doing good works and toward voting for liberal Democrats. Yeah, forty years of this nonsense, and still people don’t see the fallacy.

  8. kat says:

    What’s astonishing is that anyone acknowledges this woman as a Catholic, let alone a Sister. If she has no superior in her order that can do anything to her, then there has to be some other recourse….Rome, perhaps? to get her out of the order, and out of a “CAtholic” organization.

  9. nzcatholic says:

    Is that a woman?

  10. chironomo says:

    “Catholic Health Ass” is just about the right title….

  11. chironomo says:

    This woman and the CHA has been bought out by the administration in a last ditch effort to get the pro-life Catholic Dems to sign on. I’d be interested in knowing what their price was.

  12. The Egyptian says:

    My dear wife just walked by the computer screen and asked, who is he?
    It’s amazing how Social Justice has become the smoke of Satan. And Glenn beck is catching hell for the comment, “If you walk into a church and the sermon is on nothing but social justice, run.” I think he is on the money

  13. chironomo says:

    Is there some office in the Curia or elsewhere with responsibility for reviewing “Catholic” organizations and determining whether they be allowed to associate themselves with the Church? Shouldn’t there be some way to issue a “cease-and-desist” against organizations using the word “Catholic” in their name if they are in fact not Catholic at all?

    Can you imagine an anti-semitic group calling itself the “Jewish Health Association” proposing anti-semitic ideas under the guise of “healthcare” going unchallenged? There would be a #@!&storm of media outrage and calls for them to be shut down if not prosecuted for hate-speech.

  14. Henry Edwards says:

    chironomo: I’d be interested in knowing what their price was.

    “Sister Carol is a former longtime health executive herself, and her compensation at Catholic Health Association is $856,093. This in an organization whose expenses are only $17,660,797.”

    Does anyone know what portion (if any) of the CHA budget — 5% of which consists of the salary of its CEO — derives directly or indirectly from the government (or from institutions funded in part from governmental sources), and which might be increased under the pending legislation?

  15. wanda says:

    No Father Z., you are not wrong. How about Nancy Pelosi’s latest statement..’well, we have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in there!’ Your pig in a poke image is right on the money. More likely it will be a Pandora’s Box. There are so many booby traps in this thing that no one, not even those in D.C. know what’s in it. Most haven’t even read it.

    CHA should be ashamed of themselves, they are causing great harm and division. I had someone send me something indicating the Bishops had signed off on the Bill. I had to send them a reply with a correction to what they had seen. It is very likely that CHA has some goodies coming to them for supporting this horror.

    Pray. St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle..

  16. bookworm says:

    “Catholic Health Ass.” indeed!

    In other (hopefully good) news, Rep. Bart Stupak predicts in an interview with The Hill that Obamacare will lose by 16 votes in the House. That would include all or nearly all of the Stupak pro-life coalition plus several other members of Congress who are voting against the bill for other reasons.

    I sure hope and pray he’s right.

  17. Peggy R says:

    Cardinal George’s statement was quite strong. Fr, I apologize for being critical of rather than grateful for the bishops’ position on this whole endeavor. Yet, their silence on so many issues which scream out injustice to many lay Catholics and other Americans, leads one to believe that they’re quite happy to have federally-controlled medical and insurance industries, which can control our lives and ability to obtain medical care.

    Are we to take it that the bishops think it’s okay for Americans to be fined/jailed if they don’t buy insurance; that it’s okay for the IRS to reach into citizens’ accounts to take funds the feds say they are owed for healthcare (what’s to stop the IRS there); that government boards can declare that a person of a certain age may not receive certain kinds of care b/c of the expense? Do the bishops understand the larger meaning of Bart Stupak’s (God bless him) revelation? It will not just be too many babies being born that will burden the system. Don’t forget the chronically ill, elderly, disabled, unborn diagnosed with Downs, etc.

    If the Dems’ love of abortion kills this thing, that’ll be fine with me, but I’d sure like this idea to be killed on the merits of whether to federalize medical insurance and medical care.

    As one commenter noted, Glenn Beck is not wrong that “social justice” in many Christian circles is code for government social programs. I am sure that there are at least a few bishops who are quite on board with socialized medicine, only a few have come out clearly against the federalized approach, citing the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. The USCCB staff is long considered to be what pulls that group to the left.

    Pardon my long rant. I pray for God to deliver us from this evil. I thank our bishops for withdrawing from this evil project being pursued by highly dubious procedures.

  18. mpm says:

    Henry Edwards and Chironomo,

    The member institutions of CHA are many of the Catholic Health Care Systems which were formerly run under the auspices of the various religious orders (mostly of women), as well as those of some dioceses. I think that most of them emulated the “Catholic” universities, and separated their original sponsors from the institutions, etc., ad nauseam. I tried to see who was currently serving on their board of trustees at their website, but could find absolutely no information about who “serves” on the Board or on Staff.

    Essentially, the CHA is the lobbying arm of all those “systems”, whose CEOs today are often paid total compensation in the low millions. I do think they comprise a large portion of the 30% of American hospitals, hospices, etc., that the supposedly Catholic. They ALL get Federal Funding of various sorts, and they are getting their snouts into the Obamacare trough, just like the insurance companies, et al.

    To my certain knowledge, there have been staff members of CHA who, since at least the 70s have been trying to keep this organization compliant with the bishops’ guidelines for health care facilities, but the senior management has always been trying to find a way around them in order to make more money. Not much of an “apostolate” anymore, IMO.

    As to the concept of “technical questions”: calling something a “technical issue” is a typical ploy to get around Catholic moral guidelines. If it’s technical, then reasonable people can disagree without violating morality; if it’s a moral question, well that’s a horse of a different color. What Cardinal George and Archbishop Chaput are saying is that it is not a “technical question” whether the conscience rights of health care professionals are protected or not, and whether this bill sufficiently prohibits Federal payments for abortions, etc. They are saying that it inadequately addresses these issues, which are moral considerations, and therefore Obamacare, insofar as we know it, does not deserve anybody’s support.

  19. B Knotts says:

    I agree, Peggy. While stopping abortion funding is something that is an absolute moral imperative, few of the bishops, or for that matter, few in Congress or the media, whether the whole idea of a federal health care bill is fundamentally wrong.

    Subsidiarity gets mentioned from time to time, but there hasn’t been a substantive consideration of this principle, as applied to this subject, in the public square.

    I can see no reason that this absolutely must be addressed by the federal government. State governments already provide healthcare assistance to the poor in conjunction with funding from the federal government. If those systems are lacking in some way, the citizens of the states can ask their state representatives to address those problems.

  20. mpm says:

    I had not heard of Prof. Jost before, so I googled him, and was directed to his website at the University where he teaches. I don’t want to “demonize” the man (I mean that), but there one learns what his professional opinion is: “His most recent book is Health Care at Risk: A Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement, which was published by Duke University Press in 2007.”

    So, unlike CHA, he makes no bones about where he stands regarding “socialized medicine”. I think that many Catholics, and others, are not quite so complacent about it; I know I am not, even were it to include the moral safeguards for conscience rights, against payments for abortions, and so that immigrants can purchase health insurance.

    Unfortunately, “Obama-Reid-Pelosi-Care” has become a supersized “happy meal” for the Federal Government, which can only open its mouth by raising taxes for as far as the eye can see. They always mention that it will cut the budget: they mean the federal budget, not the cost to taxpayers! That’s either mercantilism or socialism.

  21. The Egyptian says:

    Really we have not scratched the surface of the evil in this bill. Everything will be about “cost of health care”. More than 2 children- hard on the mother, your religion be damned, you will be limited to 2 to save the country money. Your church will not marry gays, that is mental cruelty, that costs the government money for mental health care, religion be damned, you will marry them or close. You name it it will be about health care, these people know no bounds, food marriage, autos, lifestyle, travel, occupation will all be about health care and its costs.

  22. wmeyer says:

    On top of all else, it occurred to me this morning that as the bill would impose taxes for four years before providing any benefits, and as passage of the bill increases the likelihood of a major shift in Congress in the November election, this could all be a ruse, a scheme to pay for some of the monies already spent.

    We know from sad experience with Social Security that the four years of income will be placed into the general fund as fast as it is collected, and will be spent, not saved.

    It is altogether possible that the revenues could be taken, and after the 2012 election, a repeal measure could then succeed.

    And just what do you suppose are the odds of taxpayers getting back any of what was taken in the interim?

  23. The Egyptian says:

    wmeyer, slim to none,
    now try this on for size

    Pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak (D-MI) told National Review today that democratic leaders told him abortions are good because kids cost a lot of money.

  24. Peggy R says:

    The Egyptian:

    I said the same thing about pregnancies being limited and so forth if too many babies cost too much. What can we conclude about the treatment for severely ill, disabled, elderly, those in vegetative state…? They will be deemed (boy those Dems love to “deem” these days) too costly to care for as well.

    St. Joseph, (feast day coming up) pray for us.

  25. Gabriel Austin says:

    The bill is not about health care. It makes no provision for new hospitals or doctors or nurses. It is all about buying insurance – yourself [and you will be fined if you do not] or by the government if you are poor.
    If you are not poor enough, you will get a tax credit – i.e., your taxes will be reduced. But you must still be able to pay taxes to benefit from a credit.

    As usual look for the money. The dear sister gets a hefty salary, as do her CEO confreres at the hospitals. And then the insurance companies will make out like bandits with all this new money flowing their way.

  26. quovadis7 says:


    Just look at what we are discussing here – an organization of “concerned” Catholics who now have a prominent platform for speaking entirely outside of the realm of the authority/control of the Catholic Bishops….

    Q1: How did & how could this happen in our Church???

    A1: Catholics too got the “religious liberty” message conveyed in the Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae; now many of them are now running with it full steam ahead (both individually, and as organizations) pretty much irrespective of what the Bishops have to say….

    Q2: Is there hope any longer of slamming shut that Pandora’s box?

    A2: “Turning back the clock to 1962” unfortunately looks like a REALLY attractive option to consider right now….

    Seems to me that the “household of God” has a bunch of disruptive, dishonest, and disrespective teenagers who are causing utter mayhem. The time is LONG overdue for the Fathers to lay down the wood; but, do they even have the intestinal fortitude to do that anymore???

    Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

    Steve B
    Plano, TX

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