Key Catholic Support for the Senate Health Bill
Yesterday the Catholic Health Association, which represents 1,200 medical facilities and providers, including 620 hospitals, released a statement of support for the Senate health care reform bill, which the House will vote on in the very near future. NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, quickly issued a statement endorsing CHA’s stance. CHA president Sister Carol Keehan called the bill “a major first step” toward universal health care, and praised its funding of support programs for vulnerable women who are pregnant and/or parenting. Regarding the issue of abortion, Keehan said
The Catholic Health Association (CHA) has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women. The bill now being considered allows people buying insurance through an exchange to use federal dollars in the form of tax credits and their own dollars to buy a policy that covers their health care. If they choose a policy with abortion coverage, then they must write a separate personal check for the cost of that coverage.
This is significant for several reasons. For one, it shows that Catholic leaders are not deferring to the USCCB’s flawed analysis of the Senate bill’s abortion provisions. (For more on this, see Timothy Jost’s statement released today, which points out numerous flaws in the USCCB’s statements about the bill. Prof. Jost is a professor at Washington and Lee School of Law and co-author of a textbook used in the teaching of health policy and law at law schools nationwide.)
Furthermore, CHA plays a key role in the health care system in areas represented by pro-life Catholic Representatives who have yet to decide whether they’ll vote for the Senate bill. (For example, CHA runs more than 20% of hospitals in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.) As the final vote looms, CHA’s support for the bill really could make a difference by assuaging any concerns wary Members might have and refocusing the debate on the facts of the legislation — and the huge difference this bill will make in the lives of millions of American families.