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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Important: Bishop Nickless critically evaluates Obamacare, lays out Catholic principles

    Stop the presses....

    If you are a Catholic engaged in our nation's debate about health care, you need to read Bishop R. Walker Nickless' in his latest column.

    I don't often post what I consider to be "required reading" for AmPsters, but this is one of those times. It's one of the very best articles on Catholic principles of health care I've read since I started following the debate.

    Some excerpts:

    .... My brother bishops have described some clear “goal-posts” to mark out what is acceptable reform, and what must be rejected.

    First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research. {contined}

    Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. {continued}

    Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care. {continued}

    Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. {continued}

    Now Bishop Nickless takes a look at the particular parts of the legislation we are examining in Congress:
    Within these limits, the Church has been advocating for decades that health care be made more accessible to all, especially to the poor. Will the current health care reform proposals achieve these goals?

    The current House reform bill, HR 3200, does not meet the first or the fourth standard. As Cardinal Justin Rigali has written for the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, this bill circumvents the Hyde amendment (which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions) by drawing funding from new sources not covered by the Hyde amendment, and by creatively manipulating how federal funds covered by the Hyde amendment are accounted. It also provides a “public insurance option” without adequate limits, so that smaller employers especially will have a financial incentive to push all their employees into this public insurance. This will effectively prevent those employees from choosing any private insurance plans. This will saddle the working classes with additional taxes for inefficient and immoral entitlements. The Senate bill, HELP, is better than the House bill, as I understand it. It subsidizes care for the poor, rather than tending to monopolize care. But, it designates the limit of four times federal poverty level for the public insurance option, which still includes more than half of all workers. This would impinge on the vitality of the private sector. It also does not meet the first standard of explicitly excluding mandatory abortion coverage.
    Here you have Bishop Nickless' very compelling prudential conclusion about the current forms of the health care proposals. The idea that Catholics have an automatic obligation to support them is false. Instead, Catholics ought to be vocally involved in opposing the problematic features of this legislation, while also calling for authentic reform along different lines than the ones proposed now.

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