The Bishops Remind Us, the ACA Needs Repairs, Not Repeal UPDATED

The Catholic Church is not against the Affordable Care Act, which the Supreme Court just upheld today in a landmark decision that found it constitutional. The Bishops, via the USCCB,  seek for the ACA to be “repaired,” not “scrapped.”

Following enactment of ACA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today.The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above. We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.

Having said that, the bishops still fight to overturn the HHS Mandate (which was not ruled on today) because it violates the religious liberties of all Americans, and they also oppose other parts of the ACA for the following reasons,

For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable. Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB’s position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.

First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of “high risk” insurance pools that would have covered abortion.

Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. We have provided extensive analyses of ACA’s defects with respect to both abortion and conscience. The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA’s new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS’s “preventive services” mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.

Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly. ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money. This undermines the Act’s stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need.

For the complete press release, head to the USCCB website. Meanwhile, the Fortnight for Freedom continues apace.

The Supreme Courts 193 page decision.
Mark Shea: Why is it absolutely necessary to vote GOP?
Marketwatch on the securities market response.
Red State’s Erik Erickson: Why I’m not down on John Roberts.
Thomas L. McDonald: I need help, but not like this.
Catholic Healthcare Association’s response: Approves
Deacon Greg with a truth worth more than 1000 words.
The Anchoress: Did Roberts just give Obama the bird? SCOTUS can’t save us from stupid. That’s our job.
Would you believe the Motley Fool weighs in?
The Acton Institute: Initial Thoughts
The Catholic News Agency with a silver lining.
You heard it here first: Chief Justice Roberts is a genius.
The Washington Post: The political genius of John Roberts.
City Father: A Good Outcome.
Bishop Kevin Farrell: The Supreme Court’s Decision.
Morningstar Analyst: Effect of the ruling on our valuations and recommendations across the health-care sector is immaterial.

  • Katherine

    There is a big difference between passing laws to ensure everyone has access to health care and simply having the government provide healthcare to everyone. That is the easy way out and saves no one. Where exactly is the principle of Subsidiarity in all this?

  • Ed Brophy

    1) Catholic dialogue with President Obama on the Catholic abortion compromise, was introduced by church official Father Jenkins of Notre Dame Catholic Law University in June of 2009.

    2) President Obama addressed “common ground” Catholics and the university’s graduating law students in a nationwide televised speech.

    Mr. Obama, graduate of Harvard Law School and former president of the Harvard Law Review, lectured to this Catholic audience of Notre Dame graduates on abortion and stem cell research—as he “reframed” their meaning of Catholic moral issues and just laws.

    3) “Common ground” was finally reached between both parties. For his contribution, the President of The United States was then awarded with an honorary doctor of laws degree from this Holy Cross institution.

    This distinguished acknowledgement was obviously viewed by many in the American public, as recognition for the president’s contribution to family planning…and “the Catholic compromise”… throughout America and the Church’s higher schools of learning.

    President Barak Obama’s Commencement Speech (June 17, 2009):

    “Thank you, Father Jenkins for that generous introduction. You are doing an outstanding job as president of this fine institution, and your continued and courageous commitment to honest, thoughtful dialogue is an inspiration to us all.”

    If you let an enemy platform the terms of the argument, he has already won it.

    “Mankind will learn at the school of example, and none other.”~Edmund Burke

    Yours truly,
    Notre Dame 88

  • Rosemary

    Really, I think replacing a bad law with several good ones is better than patching up this monster. Just sayin’…

  • Ryan Haber

    The bishops are wrong.

    They are right that everyone should have access to healthcare, everyone willing to work and live frugally to gain it. Nobody should be locked out independent in spite of their own prudent precaution.

    The bishops are wrong in believing that the PPACA will accomplish these ends; they are wrong to think that unlimited government can or will do more good than limited government; they are wrong to enter into matters of political prudence proper to the laity about the best way to accomplish Christian ends. Our bishops are advocating a basic approach that can only honestly be called socialism and will give rise to the same sort of mediocrity that dominates public education, public housing, and so on. Even liberals typically see these things as failures as they stand now, and yet hope to solve the problems created by these solutions with more of the same solution. The bishops are foolish not to be wiser than that.

    It pains me, as a Catholic who loves the Church with my whole heart, who sees myself as God’s servant and the Church’s son first and foremost, who believes every teaching of the Church because the Church teaches it; but our bishops in this country have been miserable failures in insight, prudence, and leadership. From the child abuse scandals to financial mismanagement to ugly cathedral renovation to supporting a massive expansion of the state for the last seventy years to their silence on contraception and their near silence on abortion, they have just not lead us well. We should not look to them for advice in managing our secular affairs any longer. They need to get their own house in order first. The consolation is that, as with almost everything in history, this has happened before: consider the Tudor Revolution in which Henry took hostage the Church in England. Only one bishop opposed him (two, at first, but Absp Warham died). We can survive this, too. The other consolation is that the Church’s mission is bigger than this country or that. If our bishops get distracted from the Gospel by their fight to save people from all of life’s hardships, the bishops in other countries are still about the Lord’s work.

  • Kathleen

    Do the bishops realize they are co-operating with the demise of our nation, AND silencing the moral voice of the Catholic Church in America? They are cowards who think they can exist happily within Socialism. They are the frog in boiling water!

    • Frank Weathers

      First-day knee-jerk reactions rarely reflect the true impacts of big events. You did, of course, follow-up all of the links above? Including this one, right? And then there is this one from the Catholic News Agency as well.

      • Nemo

        Is your list exhaustive? If not, perhaps people consulted other lists. Furthermore, I doubt these are “knee-jerk reactions.” People have been thinking about the health care law for nearly two years now. And the “catholicity” of this law is barely arguable, if that. If you like the law, just say that. Don’t try to dress it up as Catholic.

      • Alessandre

        It’s quite possible Roberts is a genius but that has no bearing on the bishops’ failure to follow the teaching of the Church on subsidiarity & solidarity. When the bishops were negotiating w/ those trying to pass Obamacare, I asked how they could negotiate w/ someone they knew to be a liar & pro-abortion. I was told the bishops are savvy & know what they are doing. I’m glad they are speaking up about the HHS mandate & similar issues in Obamacare but I also know they helped the bill pass. Their presence lent it an aura of respectability: Obamacare was a “good.” Of course it’s not & it doesn’t even cover illegal aliens, those the bishops were most concerned about. Did it once occur to those bishops to tell illegals, “Go home where you’ll have free health insurance”? This law is not Catholic. There is nothing Catholic about it & I’ve read every page. It’s a power grab, an attempt to control our lives & if we don’t repeal it, that’s exactly what it will do.

        • Frank Weathers

          Why would you have thought the law is “Catholic?” Surely it isn’t news that we don’t live in a Catholic country. And despite some of my fellows lamentations on pluralism, the U.S. is a pluralistic society, with representatives that reflect this fact. A pluralistic society is what the bishops have to work with, and that is what they are attempting to do. But their efforts do not in any way relieve us of our political duties either.

  • Jeannine

    The HHS mandate was entirely predictable. An abortion mandate will follow if Obamacare is not repealed, and perhaps even if it is. I think that perhaps the bishops underestimate the malice toward Christianity (and especially toward Catholicism) in the ruling elites. It’s not your grandfather’s Democrat party.

    Moreover, a government-run healthcare system easily lends itself to political manipulation; recall that a few years ago, a pro-life Briton was denied a hip replacement because of his political views.

    • Frank Weathers

      Entirely predictable? Like this ruling? “We see through a glass, and darkly.” See Andy’s comment, por favor.

  • Andy

    A quick comment – we are forced by the government to buy things all of the time – most notably car insurance and in my state specific levels of insurance, so being “forced”to buy health insurance is a bit of a stretch as unconstitutional. However, that is not to say that the ACA is an ideal law, it is not. It has very attractive and important components that should be kept. ACA was a cob job, made up by a committee of insurance lobbyists, doctor’s groups, politicians and no one from the affected class. All this decision really says is that Congress can do what it did. It even mentions that a wiser decision could have been made. Please it is not the end of the US, we have an election to offer a change of course, although I don’t know that it will be any better. We have prayer to comfort ourselves and to ask for protection.

    • mnemos

      Andy – Throw out the car insurance analogy – it doesn’t work for a few reasons. In the US, our Constitution defines (and in theory limits) powers and functions of the federal government – not generally the state government. The federal government manages our foreign relations, state governments are not allowed to. State governments have police powers, the federal government is not allowed to. You are talking about car insurance requirements, which are state level, and comparing them to ACA which is federal. That is apples and oranges. Second, car insurance is only required based on driving a car – ie. you want to do something, there are requirements for it. ACA is a requirement just because you are alive. These are not comparable at all.

      • Andy

        Actually the car insurance issue works perfectly – we are forced to buy a product. What doesn’t work is your appeal to federalism, because under the powers of the federal government they can intervene in many areas – interstate commerce is one, taxation is another. The other part of the problem is that I pay through my higher rates of health insurance for those who don’t have or chose not to have health insurance. How is that fair. That is the reason for car insurance so I if struck do not have to pay for it out of my pocket.

        • Alessandre

          I don’t have a car & don’t have car insurance. I’m disabled & do have private health insurance, which I pay for, but when it ends in July 2013, I will not be able to buy private health insurance but will be forced to accept medicare. The car insurance metaphor doesn’t work because those who don’t drive aren’t forced to have car insurance. Those who do drive choose as much or as little insurance according to their needs. If they only want collision, they only buy collision & pay for any other damage themselves. Obmacare takes away all powers of choice. Medicare fails to cover much of what I need I can’t buy better coverage. I can’t choose. Do you begin to see the difference between Obamacare & car insurance? W/ Obamacare, no matter what you need or want, you can only have what the plan offers & that’s not much. And if you think you’ll not be required to pay for people w/o insurance, you’re wrong. Illegal aliens aren’t covered by Obamacare & they use ERs the most. All the things you thought Obamacare would help will be worse. Higher taxes? Real! Death panels? Real. Losing your current health insurance at work? Real! All the scary stories & more? Real! You can stop driving a car. My only option to Obamacare is a painful death.

  • mnemos

    The USCCB is really missing the point on this. They are still falling for the silly idea that “health insurance” is the same as “health care access”. As many people on Medicare know having insurance isn’t the same thing as having access. Many providers cannot accept patients on Medicare, since it doesn’t cover the cost of patient care. Second, they are still under the impression that the intent of the ACA is to increase coverage – that may be nice to talk about but is not a fundamental part of the bill.

  • Elizabeth K.

    We have to buy car insurance–but we are never forced to buy a car. With health insurance, there is no way to avoid the first purchase–which is you. People are not objects. I cannot think of a single thing we are forced by government to buy by virtue of our bodily existence–can you? I respect the bishops, but I believe they are being naive about the dehumanizing aspects of this law. The ends are good, but the means are evil, and Catholics need to recognize that. Maybe they found a way to say it’s constitutional, but the individual mandate isn’t moral.

    • Frank Weathers

      Counterpoint: Sifting through the political partisanship to realize that no one is saying the ACA is a perfect law. Obviously it has flaws, as the bishops enumerated above, which is why we, and they, are called to work hard to see that the flaws are fixed.

      The onus now will be on candidate Romney to show how his plan (whatever cherry picked version of the ACA that is) is different, while still accomplishing the same goals.

      • Elizabeth K.

        Fair point, but I guess my question is whether these are flaws that can be fixed. In a law so fundamentally screwed up that it causes people to compare their own bodies to vehicles, where do we go? And I don’t think the bishops’ list is nearly long enough–which is appropriate. They need to comment as bishops. They’re not going to say, for example, that giving free contraception to everyone is stupid. But it is. From a completely secular point of view, it’s stupid. And this law is full of that kind of nonsense and the continued means to create it.

        But I do agree, the ball’s in Romney’s court, now.