Just Because Obama is a Screwup

Just Because Obama is a Screwup December 5, 2013

Doesn’t mean the GOP cares about you:

There’s a reason the bishops have been saying health care is a right for nearly a century.  It’s what the Church teaches:

2211 The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially:

– the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in keeping with the family’s own moral and religious convictions;

– the protection of the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family;

– the freedom to profess one’s faith, to hand it on, and raise one’s children in it, with the necessary means and institutions;

– the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate;

– in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits;

– the protection of security and health, especially with respect to dangers like drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.;

– the freedom to form associations with other families and so to have representation before civil authority.

2288 Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.

Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance.

How do I know the GOP has absolutely no interest in this?  Because merely pointing out that every human being has a right to health care is enough to invite a torrent of accusations that one is a “liberal”, that the bishops are (as I was informed the other day) “goofballs” and that all this sort of teaching from the Catechism can be brushed aside as “prudential judgment”.

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  • John Barnes

    Very true, though we delude ourselves if we think the other side of the political aisle generally cares about us or if we think that this massive screwup billed as “reform” was designed to provide quality, affordable health care. This is not to say that the status quo is acceptable or that the oft-touted “single payer” model is workable in a country as large and heterogeneous as ours. The right to medical care is far too precious a thing to be left to the mere swings and turns of an unbridled market or to politicization, which is what happens inevitably when the state runs anything. Unfortunately we’re boxed in by a myopically binary political discourse that says in order to be “relevant” your only options are the RNC or DNC talking points.

    • Stu

      So isn’t part of the negative reaction that may occur to the notion of having a “right to medical care” due to the fact that increasingly the Federal Government is seen as the first line of defense to almost every challenge we face? In other words, I think people hear “right to medical care” and because of the current environment immediately think “massive government program”.

      Perhaps if we got the government back into the business of policing the market instead of trying to control the market and stifle it for everyone but their Big Business buddies we might start changing some attitudes as well.

      • Liberal judicial activism has made republicans so suspicious of any interpretation beyond our founding documents’ exact literal language that they can’t see how the right to life logically rules out denying anyone access to commodities necessary to preserving life.

        And Stu’s right. Most Americans (for understandable reasons) immediately presume that anyone calling for recognition of rights intends those rights to be enforced at the federal level. I’m against health care being contingent upon employment, but I’m convinced that subsidiarity isn’t a detriment, and is in fact essential to, fixing health care.


        • Stu



          When the OWS movement was going on, I actually went down to our local city congregation and had many kids listening to me extol the virtues of subsidiarity in actually pushing us closer to what Obamacare CLAIMS that it wants.
          They were very interested. It was something they have never been exposed to in their lives.

  • I fully expect that responses to my comment here will be misconstrued, and, rather than addressing it seriously, responses will address what people believe I am trying to say. Nevertheless, I will give it a shot:

    To the degree that it is true, what is meant by a “right to medical care”? Is it the best medical care? Is it a certain standard that is high? Is it a low standard? What about issues of pragmatism? For example: there are a limited number of practitioners working limited hours, and there are a great many people who need or could greatly benefit from medical care. What about an individual practitioner’s right to choose who to serve? (I’m not suggesting that her right to choose has no moral ramifications; it does, but should she be coerced by government?). What about the practitioner’s right to payment, and right to negotiate a rate for services? What factors determine the answers to these questions? How do they vary according to circumstances–America compared to Zimbabwe?

    I want the sick healed and comforted, and I do not disagree with our bishops as quoted. However, I am wary of this becoming an ideological battle. The ‘How’ matters a great deal, and that should be the first conversation.

    • meunke

      I’m going to go ahead and just summarize about 50% of the responses you’ll get right now: “You’re a Rush Limbaugh lover who hates the poor!”

      There, I saved you some reading time. You can thank me now.

    • Andy

      If we could agree that it is a right then the how must be debated. Unfortunately there are many folks who do not see it as a right, but rather a commodity.

      • But it seems to me that it almost falls in the middle. Allow me to explain what I mean…

        Obama says contraception is a right. Contraceptives are truly a commodity. If they were a right, then, if nobody wanted to produce them, it would fall on the government to manufacture condoms.
        (I can’t imagine the failure rate. ha) What if nobody wanted to work in the factories that produced government condoms? Would the politicians who support the ‘right to condoms’ be required to work the lines?

        Alright, I have to make a leap here; please excuse me: The Church makes a distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means in medicine. You have a right, that you may morally exercise, to refuse extraordinary means to keep you alive. If you do not want to be hooked up to a respirator to keep you alive, then you are perfectly within your rights and moral action to refuse. A feeding tube, however, is not considered extraordinary means, under most circumstances. To refuse a feeding tube would be immoral.

        Rights and duties, right? You have an obligation to nourish yourself if possible, and an obligation to provide nourishment to those in your care, if possible. Thus, you have a right to be fed. Does that mean that I have the right to demand food from your pantry? Of course not. If I were starving and otherwise incapable of making my way to a soup kitchen or something of the sort, then, yes, you would be obliged to feed me. If you have two loaves of bread and I have none… That’s the teaching of the Church. Yet, bread is a commodity. All food items are commodities.

        So, how does medical care fit into this scheme? Do I really have a right to be treated for a mild case of the flu? What about a very mild burn on my arm? Do I have a right to chemotherapy? How about hip replacements? And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the subject of limited availability, but you get the picture, I trust.

        • Andy

          The right to food, shelter, a “living wage” health care all go to the dignity of humanity. We claim our system is superior because we have the best of care for serious issues. My contention is that if we relied less on doctors and more on Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants we would find that it is not a scarce commodity. We have allowed specialists to become the norm.
          There is always the tension between when does a person need treatment vs. when the “wait it out” mentality my mother instilled in me should prevail. Again if we relied on a better range of services with fewer specialists I believe that this is overcomable (a new word?)
          Extraordinary means in medicine is always a decision best made by the individual, his or her family, medical personnel and those who the individual trusts. We do not have in place a definition of what is extraordinary vs. ordinary. These debates always seem lately to lead to claims of death panels or the like. I think that is a debate that needs serious consideration and thought, not really fit for com boxes.

    • Dan C

      “What about an individual practitioner’s right to choose who to serve?”

      This exists now. Actually, market forces encourage more broad acceptance of patients. If I choose only to take those who can afford the time or money that self-pay requires, than I limit my patient base. If I am in a zip code that is quite wealthy but accept too many Medicaid patients, my better-reimbursing patients will go elsewhere. If I am in a zip code that is medium income, I need to accept all Medicaid insurances or I will lose a significant patient base. The result is then that I will exclude a significant number of patients.

    • Dan C

      The second question about should someone get “the best care” if they receive government-supported health care is a tricky question.

      Over 30% of all births are supported by Medicaid. This then includes the neonatal intensive care patients, premature infants. How does one define “the best care?” Should they get less….time on a ventilator? Should they just receive a certain specified amount for coverage and then the hospital and the physicians “eat the cost?” Or should the excess expenses beyond such a limit require parental debt?

      When these questions are asked more globally, for instance, socialized medicine (which is a nation’s health care on a budget) means that some things get paid for and some things do not. When this is asked about how much care someone with more than Stage 1 lung cancer should get (very very high mortality) or any pancreatic cancer (Enormously high mortality) or how many CT surgeries an 85 year old should receive, histrionics are provoked. When one asks “how good should the medical care be that the poor receives?” one is fundamentally discussing rationing care. I will start with the obvious question: why should the poor receive rationed care and not the elderly (Medicare-supported)?

      When it comes time to make these decisions, whether we decide that it is pregnant mothers who are poor or 85 year olds are the target of the rationing, there will need to be a group of people who are experts to sort out the data and the decisions. There will be a committee, a “panel” is a synonym. These “panels” were also once vilified. Whether a local panel or national expert panel is created, a panel determining who gets care and what it is is required. This was considered problematic a few years ago. They were termed “death panels.”

  • meunke

    I gave up on this discussion long ago. I got sick and tired of being accused by other Catholics of not wanting the poor to be cared for just because I thought we should find a better way than taking an insurance system that… mostly… worked and destroying if for most everyone while not actually helping the people it ‘claimed’ to want to help and doing nothing but cementing a MASSIVE federal power grab. Thinking that that might…. just MIGHT… not be a good way to care for the poor apparently makes me despicable.

    Perhaps one day I will come to the enlightened understanding that the only way to help the unfortunate is by a giving the federal government massive power to demonstrably do something even worse than it is already done. I don’t actually believe that right now, which means I must hate the poor and probably kick puppies too.

    • HornOrSilk

      Liberalism is not the answer. Catholic teaching has always promoted government enforcement of justice. This is something liberalism always forgets.

      • meunke

        I think you missed my point, but I’ve come to expect that in this debate. That’s why I’m not going to engage in anymore debate. I’m tired of it.

        • KyPerson

          I agree with you. There were some glitches for sure but the system we had worked fairly well. I think with a few tweaks such as allowing insurance to be sold over state lines, tort reform and making allowances for pre-existing conditions, we could have had a good insurance reform. Instead we got this monster.

          • Andy

            There were more than glitches – there were yawning chasms in our health care system – it is the system that needs reforms – emphasis on preventive care would be a start, reduction in the number of redundant tests that are ordered by doctors, doctors controlling the testing facilities that both gather the samples etc and then process it. We also need to consider why health care has to be a be a profit making venture.
            Our system worked well if you could afford it, but not for those who could not afford it – at least 48,000,000 Americans.

            • KyPerson

              I agree the system needed reform, but Obamacare wrecks it. One reason I mentioned tort reform is that doctors who are afraid of being sued order lots and lots of unnecessary lab tests just to cover their behinds.

              • Andy

                I have seen no evidence that ACA is wrecking the system – I hear pundits bellow it, but have seen precious few facts that support that contention.

                • Stu

                  Wrecking the system? No. It’s helping the system that was in place. ACA is about making healthcare affordable for the insurance companies.

                  • Dan C

                    It may serve to shore up community hospitals who are somewhat precarious financially at the moment.

                  • Andy

                    I agree – it is not about people it is about the Insurance Companies – that is why I see no evidence of the system being wrecked.

              • Jenna

                Tort reform is a red herring. It’s already been enacted in several states and there’s no evidence that health care costs have declined significantly. See this http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/new-study-tort-reform-has-not-reduced-health-care-/nRpcp/.

  • Dan C

    I, like many Americans, have an entertainment budget, that compared to the days of the 1970’s, should make me embarassed.

    Middle class America in the 1970’s had bikes and balls and mitts and Tuesday nights we all watched Happy Days. And that was it. No massive amusement parks system in Orlando for vanilla-lifestyle decadence or the massive amusement park system in Las Vegas for the alcoholic-pornographic decadence. No multiple video game systems, or religious adherence to sports and the annual impact such has on one’s budget.

    Now our personal wealth is very very different, and the money we have is different. Our “wealth” in our communities is “personal” and less communal.

    If we determine that a nation’s wealth is a combination of those things that we hold communally (libraries, schools, universities, etc) and our personal wealth, the US is still very very wealthy. Our neighborhood public employees and school teachers are asking for the pensions they were once promised on contracts once previously negotiated, but underfunded to fuel lower taxes (that went into our X-boxes, or whatever.) We are discussing how we cannot pay extra for matters but our phone/cable/internet/computer-device-gadget budgets increase, without discussing the Disney trips.

    I suggest this is a fundamental flaw in the discussion. Why not more taxes?

    • Dan C

      So, I am aware more taxes changes expenditures in our consumptive market-based system, but then, considering how I detail its spending above, isn’t it better spent on universal health care?

    • Stu

      Why not more taxes?

      Because as a retired Naval Officer I have seen firsthand how gobs and gobs of taxes have been wasted by Big Government towards the Military
      Industrial Complex and see no reason to believe why we won’t get the same
      results with increasing the Federal play in this? Now that is assuming you are talking about a Federal solution given that is typically the reaction in this present era towards any challenge?

      How about we reconceptualize the problem and come up with some real solutions instead of repeating all of the things that got us here?

      • Dan C

        I think that I am awaiting folks to come up with non-market answers, and reject market solutions for their destabilizing effects. I find the “market” is a bad arrangement for the very sick, and as such, with metric-based indicators for practitioners based on outcomes, the sick will be rejected. We see such for adult heart bypass already. Patients are diverted away from certain heart centers to go to academic centers to permit an avoidance of morbidity for very sick patients, which then incurs cost, etc.

        Health care costs. It needs a stable foundation to retain the institutions required for caring for very sick people. Or we can embrace the health outcomes of the 1950’s. Or the 1970’s. or even the 1990’s.

        Systems need stability and stable funding. No market promises that. Government is the more likely solution.

  • Raymond

    Despite the antagonistic nature of our correspondences, Mark, I thank you for this post.

  • AquinasMan

    The whole government concept of “healthcare” is fatally flawed, and any support from the USCCB is utter folly. If the government definition of “healthcare” includes abortion and a trajectory that will lead to rationing (read: harming the aged and otherwise “useless eaters”), then the Catholic Church has no business whatsoever throwing even philosophical support in the direction of “universal healthcare” as a government program.

    That said, pie-in-the-sky, I’m all for authentic universal healthcare. I’m also in favor of universal sinless-ness in the world, but I’m not going to entrust that project to the government, or pretend they can create a Utopian fantasy. If the Church wants universal healthcare, it has to be a Church-led initiative, not a government initiative, and it starts locally, in parishes and dioceses, not the Department of “Health” and Human “Services”….