"For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for reform of our health care system so that all may have access to the care that recognizes and affirms their human dignity. Christian discipleship means, “working to ensure that all people have access to what makes them fully human and fosters their human dignity” (United States Catechism for Adults, page 454). Included among those elements is the provision of necessary and appropriate health care.
For too long, this question has gone unaddressed in our country. Often, while many had access to excellent medical treatment, millions of others including expectant mothers, struggling families or those with serious medical or physical problems were left unable to afford the care they needed. As Catholic bishops, we have expressed our support for efforts to address this national and societal shortcoming. We have spoken for the poorest and most defenseless among us. Many elements of the health care reform measure signed into law by the President address these concerns and so help to fulfill the duty that we have to each other for the common good. We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.
Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.
We share fully the admirable intention of President Obama expressed in his pending Executive Order, where he states, “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.” However, the fact that an Executive Order is necessary to clarify the legislation points to deficiencies in the statute itself. We do not understand how an Executive Order, no matter how well intentioned, can substitute for statutory provisions.
The statute is also profoundly flawed because it has failed to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context). As well, many immigrant workers and their families could be left worse off since they will not be allowed to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges to be created, even if they use their own money.
Many in Congress and the Administration, as well as individuals and groups in the Catholic community, have repeatedly insisted that there is no federal funding for abortion in this statute and that strong conscience protection has been assured. Analyses that are being published separately show this not to be the case, which is why we oppose it in its current form. We and many others will follow the government’s implementation of health care reform and will work to ensure that Congress and the Administration live up to the claims that have contributed to its passage. We believe, finally, that new legislation to address its deficiencies will almost certainly be required.
As bishops, we wish to recognize the principled actions of the pro-life Members of Congress from both parties, in the House and the Senate, who have worked courageously to create legislation that respects the principles outlined above. They have often been vilified and have worked against great odds.
As bishops of the Catholic Church, we speak in the name of the Church and for the Catholic faith itself. The Catholic faith is not a partisan agenda, and we take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to working for health care which truly and fully safeguards the life, dignity, conscience and health of all, from the child in the womb to those in their last days on earth."
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, March 23, 2010
January 24, 2013: The Catholic Conference of Ohio joins with the Catholic hospitals of Ohio in urging Governor Kasich and the state legislature to expand medicaid coverage
Because of our concern for the poor and vulnerable, the Catholic Conference of Ohio joins with Ohio’s Catholic hospitals to support Medicaid expansion in Ohio. Through the Affordable Care Act, this expansion will increase access to health care and health care coverage to an estimated 600,000 uninsured eligible Ohioans who are below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
With the understanding that the Federal government will assume 100 percent of the cost of covering newly eligible individuals for the first three years and will cover 90 percent of the costs thereafter, we urge the Governor and the legislature, in the biennial budget, to include this expansion of Medicaid. Additionally, we encourage the State to safeguard the existing comprehensive benefits package for current Medicaid beneficiaries and maintain Medicaid provider reimbursements.
Catholic Health Care in Ohio
The mission of the Catholic health ministry, in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, calls us to be distinguished through "service to and advocacy for those people whose social condition puts them at the margins of our society and makes them particularly vulnerable to discrimination." We are committed to ensuring that these populations get the access to coverage extended to them under theAffordable Care Act (ACA), as well as to preserving Medicaid from harmful budget cuts and program changes proposed in Washington. [MORE]
|Health Care Reform video: We Cannot Go Back
Catholic Health Association, June 2012
Issues of Life and Conscience in Health Care Reform: An Analysis of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” of 2010. Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. USCCB. 5/24/2010
Clarifying Misconceptions. USCCB 5/21/10
Abortion Funding within Healthcare Reform. USCCB. 4/12/10
U. S. Bishops Legal Analysis of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Corresponding Executive Order on Abortion Funding and Conscience Issues (3/25/10)
U.S. House Passes Healthcare Reform Bill. Executive Order added to address abortion.
USCCB Bulletin Insert. March 2010
Ohio Insurance Exchange: Ohio Dept. of Insurance
Under the new Federal Health Care Act each State is required to establish an American Health Benefits Exchange (“Exchange”) or leave it to the federal government to operate.
The exchange is required to: 1) facilitate the purchase of qualified health plans; 2) provide for the establishment of a Small Business Health Options Program (“SHOP Exchange”) designed to assist qualified employers in facilitating the enrollment of their employees in qualified health plans; and 3) meet other mandates specified in the federal health care law.
Health Care Reform Summaries
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Reconciliation Act of 2010 are now law. A full understanding of the new laws is essential to further discussion of reform issues.
We offer these summaries solely for information purposes. Regarding abortion related provisions; readers are asked to refer to the USCCB explanation of the abortion related provisions rather than any other summary and/or presentation.
Reconciled Health Care Act
HealthCare.gov U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
|Ohio Responses to National Reform
Ohio High Risk Pool: Ohioans currently deemed high risk may be eligible for this federally subsidized program. Ohio is one of the 30 states that has elected to run its own High Risk Pool. Medical Mutual of Ohio was selected by the Ohio Department of Insurance to administer this program.
Enrollment for Ohio’s high risk pool started on August , 2010. The federal health care reform law called for the creation of temporary health insurance programs for individuals with pre-existing conditions. These high risk pools will last until 2014, when full federal reforms take effect.
|©Catholic Conference of Ohio