September 22, 2009
(LifeSiteNews.com) - On Monday, September 21, the Catholic Medical Association
issued an open letter to Catholic organizations and individual Catholics to
share its views on key prudential aspects of health care reform legislation. In
the open letter the organization states they believe the
The letter called for a renewed emphasis on the principle of subsidiarity across the spectum of issues in health care financing and services. The letter critiques the federal government-centered approach in legislation passed out of congressional committees. "Even apart from the issue of abortion and respect for conscience rights," says the CMA, "such an approach is wrong in principle, demonstrably ineffective in practice, and dangerous given the Obama administration's evident refusal to respect human life."
The letter signed by CMA
President Louis Breschi, M.D. concludes that
it would be better to delay the current process until a much
sounder measures can be developed. He states,
"It would be better to forgo long-needed changes in health-care financing and delivery in the short-term if these would lead to a long-term, systemic policy regime that is inimical to respect for life, religious freedom, and the goods served by the principle of subsidiarity. Rather than accept such an outcome, we should take the time required to implement reform measures that are sound in both principled and practical terms."
The full text of the open letter can be read by clicking here.
Open Letter to Catholics and Catholic Organizations
September 21, 2009
Members of the Catholic Medical Association have been carefully monitoring the process and content of the health-care reform debate from our unique perspective as Catholic physicians. We are familiar with contributions made to the national debate by other Catholic organizations.
As efforts to enact health-care reform legislation intensify, we would like to share our perspective on some prudential aspects of health-care reform and work collaboratively with others to shape legislation in harmony with the Catholic faith. These thoughts reflect years of experience serving patients and families in medical practice while endeavoring to apply the full spectrum of Catholic medical-moral and social teaching.
We believe we are facing a
crisis, not only in health-care financing and delivery, but in the health-care
reform process itself. As is often noted, the word “crisis” can mean either
danger or opportunity. The
The failings of the
One unfortunate result of this has been increasing third-party payer intrusion into the patient physician relationship, with significantly deleterious consequences.
All Catholics should agree on the fundamental ethical and social principles proposed by the Church. The question we are faced with, after decades of misguided policies, is how should we apply these teachings so as to provide universal access to quality health-care insurance and services in a cost-effective, ethical manner?
Bills passed out of committees in the House and Senate this summer rely heavily on the federal government to dictate solutions. They empower a small group of unelected government bureaucrats and committees to determine the composition and cost of health insurance policies, the reimbursement of providers, the approval of treatments, etc. We think this government controlled approach is flawed in principle and ineffective, if not dangerous, in practice.
This approach clearly violates the principle of subsidiarity first articulated by Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno, n. 79, and recently reaffirmed by Pope John Paul II in Centesimus annus, n. 48 and Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in veritate, n. 47.
This approach has been and will be ineffective. The federal government has a very poor track record of managing large programs in a cost-effective manner. Medicare will be insolvent by 2017 and faces a $37 trillion unfunded liability. Medicaid’s problems are
well-known. Costs have run out of control in most states, and 40 percent of physicians no longer accept Medicaid because low reimbursement rates do not even cover the overhead expense of providing care. Adding millions of people to this flawed government system
(as proposed by the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee bill) is not meaningful health insurance reform.
This approach, moreover, is dangerous given the current Administration’s repeated failures to accord proper respect for the dignity of human life. Reversing the Mexico City Policy and providing federal funding for human embryonic stem-cell research are only
the best known of a whole series of proposals denying respect for human life. In addition, the Administration seems intent upon institutionalizing such policies making it difficult, if not impossible, to overturn them in the future. While there have been some
misunderstandings about provisions relating to end-of-life consultations; serious concerns remain regarding funding for care of the seriously ill and dying. All are aware that a significant percentage of health-care spending occurs in the last months of a person’s life,
and we are facing a demographic tsunami of aging baby boomers. Giving the federal government the power, and primary responsibility, to contain medical expenditures could threaten the provision of medical care to the most vulnerable, the elderly and chronically
We believe there are better approaches to achieving meaningful health-care reform and meeting our common goal of making health-care coverage truly universal and genuinely affordable.
We should advocate for legislation making it possible for individuals and families to purchase health insurance that meets their needs and also respects their values. This could be achieved by re-assigning the tax deduction for health insurance from employers to
individuals. And bringing appropriate incentives from the market economy to health insurance companies will increase competition and correct the problem of regional insurance monopolies, thereby reducing costs of insurance and medical care. Such reforms would address the needs of the great majority of people. Congress can also tailor programs to assist those most in need, the working poor, the unemployed, and those currently uninsurable due to preexisting conditions.
We should encourage greater individual accountability in health-care spending. Since 70 percent of health-care spending is for conditions directly influenced by personal behavior, there is considerable potential for improved health and reduced spending by encouraging
healthier lifestyles with appropriate financial incentives. In general, reforms encouraging individual ownership of health insurance and personal responsibility for spending on medical care are more likely to reduce costs in an ethically acceptable manner than are those increasing the power and control of third parties.
Before supporting the creation of another large government program, we should work to reform those already in existence and demonstrating serious difficulty in controlling costs. Medicaid needs an extensive overhaul to ensure quality care for the poor and just compensation for providers.
In conclusion, we call upon all Catholics and Catholic organizations to reaffirm their support for the foundational ethical and social teachings of the Church which provide a framework for authentic health care reform, and to unite as one in an uncompromising commitment to defend the sanctity of life and the conscience rights of all providers as essential parts of health-care reform. And we also respectfully urge all Catholics and Catholic organizations to place a greater emphasis on respecting the principle of subsidiarity across the spectrum of issues in health-care financing and delivery during the coming legislative debates. Experience indicates that medical decisions are best made within the personal context of the individual patient-physician relationship rather than within some remote, impersonal, and bureaucratic agency, whether governmental or corporate. We are convinced that if this important principle of Catholic social
teaching is not correctly upheld, then short-term measures to defend the right to life and respect for conscience will ultimately fail and the patient-physician relationship will be irreparably compromised.
We noted above that we face not only a crisis in health-care financing and delivery, but a crisis in the current legislative process. We must ensure that well-intentioned efforts to bring about “change” are not exploited to create a federally controlled system that promises health care for all, but creates an oppressive bureaucracy hostile to human life and to the integrity of the patient physician relationship. It would be better to forgo long-needed changes in health-care financing and delivery in the short-term if these would lead to a long-term, systemic policy regime that is inimical to respect for life, religious freedom, and the goods served by the principle of subsidiarity. Rather than accept such an outcome, we should take the time required to implement reform measures that are sound in both principled and practical terms.
Louis C. Breschi, M.D.
The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) calls upon President Obama and Congress to “hit the reset button” in their attempts to address the serious problems in the nation’s health-care financing and delivery systems. The CMA is concerned that the bills that have emerged from House and Senate Committees to date are too flawed, and the process too rushed, to provide meaningful reform.
“While health-care reform is more important than ever, existing legislation in the House and Senate—combined with President Obama’s push for hasty action—could make our current, flawed system even worse,” said Catholic Medical Association representative R. Steven White, M.D., in a statement released on July 29, 2009. “Sound reform must be based on sound ethics and economics; but so far, the House and Senate bills meet neither standard.”
The CMA is particularly concerned about two significant ethical issues (1) respect for the conscience rights of health-care providers; and (2) a mandate to finance and provide abortion.
According to the CMA’s executive director, John F. Brehany, Ph.D., the conscience rights of health-care providers are not adequately addressed in any current legislation. “The House Tri-Committee bill does not even mention the topic of conscience rights of health-care providers, and Democrats on the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee voted against an amendment that would have prohibited forcing health-care providers to perform or participate in abortion,” stated Brehany. Brehany continued, “This issue is very timely, since the department of Health and Human Services canceled a Conscience Protection Rule earlier this year and has not announced what will replace it. Yet polls show that patients want physicians who are committed to ethics and who share their values. Coercing health-care providers to deny their deepest values and ethical commitment to patients’ well-being will harm the medical profession and undermine trust in the provider-patient relationship.” Brehany concluded, “In a July 2 interview, President Obama promised a ‘robust conscience clause.’ We think it is time to deliver the text of that conscience clause and make conscience protection an integral part of any health-care reform legislation.”
Abortion is another key ethical concern for the CMA and for most Americans. CMA President Louis C. Breschi, M.D., is alarmed that White House officials and the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee have refused to exclude abortion from health-care legislation. The House Tri-Committee bill never mentions the word “abortion, but most analysts think that, without explicit exclusion, abortion will be mandated by the Secretary of HHS and/or by the courts. According to Breschi, “Few people realize that, as things stand, abortion could be a required benefit in all health insurance plans, and it would be subsidized not only in health-care premiums, but also through taxation. This unjust mandate must be excluded.”
Apart from ethical concerns, the CMA finds significant shortcomings in the economic and clinical aspects of current legislation. First, as the Congressional Budget Office points out, the legislation does nothing to reduce long-term costs. Rather, current legislation increases costs by hundreds of billions of dollars even after tax increases and creative accounting measures. Second, the bills’ attempts to control costs and increase access rely on heavy-handed government control that is antithetical to the rights of patients and physicians, and to good clinical care. Dr. White commented: “Unprecedented powers are entrusted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (as evidenced by over 1,120 references to the ‘Secretary’ and his/her powers in the House bill) and to a new authority—the ‘Health Choices Commissioner.’ Moreover, a Federal Coordinating Council on Comparative Effectiveness was created and funded, without adequate debate, by the Stimulus Bill; and there are valid concerns that the FCCCE could soon start regulating medical treatments based not only on clinical, but also ‘economic’ criteria.”
This heavy-handed federal control is made worse by two additional provisions. First, House bill regulations make it almost impossible for any current health insurance plan to survive in a new government-controlled regime. This would break President Obama’s repeated promise that Americans could keep their doctors and health-care plans—and remove the means for people to choose insurance which accords with their values and priorities. Second, House and Senate bills plan to extend health insurance coverage to millions of people by moving them onto the Medicaid rolls. However, the flaws of Medicaid are well-known—its costs have run out of control in most states, and 40% of physicians are compelled to refuse Medicaid patients because Medicaid’s low reimbursement rates do not even cover the overhead cost of office visits. Adding millions of people to this flawed system will not constitute meaningful health insurance coverage.
These problems would be exacerbated by a “public option” plan which would “compete” with private health insurance, as called for in the House Tri-Committee bill. But there is no way that private companies can fairly compete with the federal government. The government can establish below-market rates for insurance premiums and provider reimbursement and shift costs onto private companies. The government also can increase taxes or the federal deficit to absorb losses. The result is that everyone, sooner than later, will be forced to become participants in the “public option” plan and fully subject to the costs and regulations of government health care. When this happens, the American people will have lost the freedom to make important decisions about their life and health.
The Catholic Medical Association supports health-care reform that increases access and quality, and respects the values of providers and patients. These goals can best be achieved by legislation that empowers people to own their health insurance policies (as contrasted with government- or employer-controlled health-care insurance), and using targeted measures to help people who cannot afford the entire cost of their insurance premium. Legislation addressing some of these goals already has been introduced into Congress and should be reviewed to either improve or replace the current House and Senate bills.
In the meantime, current bills require such substantial amendment that it would be better to scrap them and start again. According to Dr. Breschi, it is critical for Congress to take the time necessary to address the complex economic and ethical issues involved, and to give the American people an opportunity to review any proposed legislation. Health-care reform encompasses both individual rights and the common good, ethical issues surrounding life and death, and economic issues ranging from taxes and property to economic competitiveness. It is essential that Congress first “do not harm” and then enact measures that can respect all of these complex goods.
About the Catholic Medical
Association: Founded in 1932, the Catholic Medical Association is the largest
association of Catholic physicians in
CONTACT: John F. Brehany, Ph.D., S.T.L.
By Sher Zieve Monday, September 21, 2009
One thing that seems to be fairly consistent about viewpoints on Obama is that people cannot seem to understand what he is doing…and why. Obama’s new huge slap to US allies in Eastern Europe—via Obama’s dropping the US missile shield project—seems to have left many of stupefied; not to mention further angering the US’ soon-to-be-former friends whilst drawing smiles from her enemies.
These same pundits—both liberal and conservative—are also ruminating and
scratching their heads in reference to Obama’s seemingly scattered mind as he
who now heads up the UN Security Council—no doubt in direct opposition to
that he hates—, told an audience in Troy, NY on Monday that he plans to take
over the US economy almost entirely. and transform it
from free market-based to Obama’s chaotic Alinsky-Marxist
totalitarian power grab. Obama advises
that he will “improve” the
Per Andrew Breitbart’s site BigGovernment.com,
has now been implicated in yet another corruption drama. There is an
audio tape of Obama’s Deputy Director of the of Public Engagement
Buffy Hicks (who reports to Obama’s right-hand gal Valerie Jarrett) telling
National Endowment members how to push Obama’s agenda with their
By the way, the answers to all of those who are confused about Obama’s behaviors is he’s trying to destroy this country as fast as he can before the public wakes up completely to what he is! Do you get it now? Obama wants to take this country down…utterly and absolutely. And with no one stopping him, he WILL complete his masters’ mission. There is simply no other logical—or otherwise—explanation.
It has become increasingly evident that Mr. Obama must go. So, where are the elected leaders on the other side of the political aisle? Are they also frightened and submissive to Obama? If so, they are no longer doing our will. What good are they to us? At this juncture, Obama is a gnat’s eyelash away from destroying us all. So, folks, what do you want to do?
By Sher Zieve Tuesday, September 22, 2009
It has now happened. Obama has begun a full frontal attack against anyone who disagrees with him and is now shutting off ObamaCare.for Americans. Obama is starting with who disagree—and then tell others—with his Orwellian attitude ‘I own you and everything you are’
Acting like Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez, Obama has told his ObamaGov departments—to launch its first assault against Humana. The thinly-veiled threat that Obama will shut them down—if not imprison those who oppose him on taking over our bodies—is loud and clear to all who can still hear the truth.Department—and we assume other
Note: As more and more of We-the-People actually read the proposed ObamaCare legislations and marched 1.2-2Millions strong on
the streets of
On Monday, thecarried an AP story that reads, in part:
“Teresa DeCaro, an agency official, sent the notice to all companies that sell private Medicare coverage and stand-alone drug plans to seniors. The warning came as President Barack Obama’s health care legislation is moving toward key tests in a Senate committee over the next several days, and with public polls showing widespread skepticism among seniors.
“In one case, the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees CMS, launched an investigation of Humana after getting a complaint from Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a senior lawmaker usually viewed as a reliable ally of the .
“It is wholly unacceptable for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject — particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as ,” Baucus said Monday, disclosing the HHS investigation.
“Humana Inc., headquartered in
Like the old Outer Limits intro, Obama will now control what you see and what you hear. There will soon be no more truth allowed other than ObamaTruth which is in actuality ObamaLies. Whom of our elected officials are fighting this destruction of our first Amendment? Any of you? Are there any attorneys left who are ethical and willing to fight Dictator-and-Usurper-in-Chief Obama? Are there any of you?
Obama has now begun a totalitarian attack against anyone having the temerity
to tell the truth—let alone be protected from attacks on their free
speech. It appears the time has come. Obama has now left us
but, two choices: To fight against him or die because of him. Never
in the history of the
Catholic Medical Association's Open Letter to President Obama and Members of Congress -- Congress's Current Bill Worsens the Problems Facing the Nation
Catholic Medical Association's Open Letter to President Obama and Members of Congress -- Congress's Current Bill Worsens the Problems Facing the Nation
2/24/2010 1:47:00 PM
By John F. Brehany, Ph.D., S.T.L. -Catholic Medical Association
The Catholic Medical Association (CMA), the largest association of Catholic physicians in the
Current health-care legislation is now opposed by a clear majority of the American people. A compilation of ten national polls, published at eralclearpolitics.com, shows that, on average, less than 40 percent of Americans favor current legislation while more than 52 percent oppose it. Not one of these polls shows majority support for current legislation.
We think this public opposition is well founded.
Many objective analysts, including Richard S. Foster, chief actuary of the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, have stated that the House and
Senate bills will increase health-care costs and total federal health-care
spending. Jeffrey Flier, M.D., dean of the
Now it appears that one last effort will be made to revive this flawed legislation in a February 25 televised summit. While we applaud Members of Congress and President Obama for being willing to meet together for a frank exchange of ideas, we think this is no time for political posturing or partisan gambits. Given the seriousness of the challenges we face and the shortcomings of current legislation, the best chance for achieving authentic health-care reform in the foreseeable future is to start the process of legislation over and avoid the mistakes of the last year. Specifically, we call upon Members of Congress and the executive branch to:
- Engage in a true bi-partisan process. Social legislation of this magnitude should not be enacted without a clear consensus among legislators of both parties and of the American people.
- Ensure that efforts to assist the poor and uninsured are effective and economically sustainable. In November 2009, CMS Chief Actuary Richard S. Foster noted that H.R. 3962's tactic of putting millions more people into Medicaid would make it "plausible and even probable" that Medicaid enrollees' already unacceptable access problems would be exacerbated. Health-care legislation must be based on sound economic principles.
- Respect the physician-patient relationship. The excessive levels of governmental regulation and control evident in the House and Senate bills are detrimental to the effective practice of medicine.
- Respect fundamental human and constitutional rights. Health care serves many human goods and can be the subject of many rights claims. However, there is no right more basic than the right to life, and no right more central to American constitutional order than the right to freedom of conscience and religion. Legislation must not compel any public funding of, or provider participation in, abortion. Moreover, the rights to conscience and religious liberty of health-care providers must be more comprehensively protected as the power of governmental regulation grows.
We believe the American people will rally behind sound legislation. We face real challenges, and the status quo is not acceptable. However, we can make progress only if we respond responsibly to the current impasse and move forward in a constructive manner. We ask all of you to engage in a good-faith effort that respects the principles and the process required for authentic health-care reform. We look forward to the opportunity to contribute to this effort.
Leonard P. Rybak, M.D., Ph.D.
John F. Brehany, Ph.D., S.T.L.
Executive Director and Ethicist