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Joint Statement on Health Care Reform by Abp Naumann, Bishop Finn
Diocese of Kansas City-St.Joseph ^

Posted on 09/02/2009 7:37:40 AM PDT by fabrizio

As Catholics, we are proud of the Church’s healthcare contribution to the world. Indeed, the hospital was originally an innovation of the Catholic faithful responding to our Lord’s call to care for the sick, “For I was…ill and you cared for me.” (Matthew 25, v. 35-36). This tradition continues today in America, where currently one in four hospitals is run by a Catholic agency. We have listened to current debate with great attention and write now to contribute our part to ensure that this reform be an authentic reform taking full consideration of the dignity of the human person.

Some symptoms of the inadequacy of our present health care polices are:

1) There are many people – typically cited as 47 million – without medical insurance.

2) The cost of health insurance continues to rise, with medical spending in the U.S. at $2.2 trillion in 2007, constituting 17% of the Gross Domestic Product, and predicted to double within 10 years. (Source: Office of Public Affairs, 2008: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/proj2008.pdf ).

3) The Medicare Trust Fund is predicted to be insolvent by 2019.

4) Mandated health insurance benefits for full-time workers have created an incentive for companies to hire part-time rather than full-time employees.

5) Similarly, the much higher cost to employers for family health coverage, as compared to individual coverage, places job candidates with many dependents at a disadvantage in a competitive market.

6) Individuals with pre-existing conditions who most need medical care are often denied the means to acquire it.

There are also perceived strengths of our current system:

1) Most Americans like the medical care services available to them. Our country, in some ways, is the envy of people from countries with socialized systems of medical care.

2) It is important to remember that 85% of citizens in the U.S. do have insurance. Forty percent of the uninsured are between 19-34 years old. (Source: Current Population Survey 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement) A 2007 study by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and Uninsured found that 11 million of those without insurance were eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP but were not enrolled. Those eligible but not enrolled include 74 percent of children who are uninsured. (Source: Characteristics of the Uninsured: Who Is Eligible for Public Coverage and Who Needs Help Affording Coverage?)

3) The competitive nature of our private sector system is an incentive to positive innovation and the development of advanced technology. Medical doctors and research scientists are esteemed. Doctors and other scientists immigrate to our country because of the better compensation given to those who provide quality medical care or produce successful research.

4) Medicare and Medicaid, while they have their limitations, provide an important safety net for many of the elderly, the poor and the disabled.

What Must We Do? The justified reaction to the significant defects in our current health care policies is to say, “Something must be done.” Many believe: “We have to change health care in America.” Despite the many flaws with our current policies, change itself does not guarantee improvement. Many of the proposals which have been promoted would diminish the protection of human life and dignity and shift our health care costs and delivery to a centralized government bureaucracy. Centralization carries the risk of a loss of personal responsibility, reduction in personalized care for the sick and an expanded bureaucracy that in the end leads to higher costs.

A Renewal Built on Principles We claim no expertise in economics or the complexities of modern medical science. However, effective health care policies must be built on a foundation of proper moral principles. The needed change in health care must therefore flow from certain principles that protect the fundamental life and dignity of the human person and the societal principles of justice, which are best safeguarded when such vital needs are provided for in a context of human love and reason, and when the delivery of care is determined at the lowest reasonable level. The rich tradition of Catholic social and moral teaching should guide our evaluation of the many and varied proposals for health care reform. It is our intention in this pastoral reflection to identify and explain the most important principles for evaluating health care reform proposals. No Catholic in good conscience can disregard these fundamental moral principles, although there can and likely will be vigorous debate about their proper application.

I. The Principle of Subsidiarity: Preamble to the Work of Reform

This notion that health care ought to be determined at the lowest level rather than at the higher strata of society, has been promoted by the Church as “subsidiarity.” Subsidiarity is that principle by which we respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives. (See: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, ## 185ff.; Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1883) The writings of recent Popes have warned that the neglect of subsidiarity can lead to an excessive centralization of human services, which in turn leads to excessive costs, and loss of personal responsibility and quality of care.

Pope John Paul II wrote: “By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus #48)

And Pope Benedict writes: “The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person -every person -needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. … In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) - a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est #28)

While subsidiarity is vital to the structure of justice, we can see from what the Popes say that it rests on a more fundamental principal, the unchanging dignity of the person. The belief in the innate value of human life and the transcendent dignity of the human person must be the primordial driving force of reform efforts.

II. Principle of the Life and Dignity of the Human Person: Driving Force for Care, and Constitutive Ground of Human Justice

A. Exclusion of Abortion and Protection of Conscience Rights Recent cautionary notes have been sounded by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chair of the U.S. Bishops Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Murphy of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Social Development, against the inclusion of abortion in a revised health care plan. At the same time, they have warned against the endangerment or loss of conscience rights protection for individual health care workers or private health care institutions. A huge resource of professionals and institutions dedicated to care of the sick could find themselves excluded, by legislation, after health care reform, if they failed to provide services which are destructive of human life, and which are radically counter to their conscience and institutional mission. The loss of Catholic hospitals and health care providers, which currently do more to provide pro bono services to the poor and the marginalized than their for-profit counterparts, would be a tremendous blow to the already strained health care system in our country.

It is imperative that any health care reform package must keep intact our current public polices protecting taxpayers from being coerced to fund abortions. It is inadequate to propose legislation that is silent on this morally crucial matter. Given the penchant of our courts over the past 35 years to claim unarticulated rights in our Constitution, the explicit exclusion of so-called “abortion services” from coverage is essential. Similarly, health care reform legislation must clearly articulate the rights of conscience for individuals and institutions.

B. Exclude Mandated End of Life Counseling for Elderly and Disabled Some proposals for government reform have referenced end of life counseling for the elderly or disabled.

An August 3, 2009 Statement of the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses on Health Care Legislation, in addition to calling for the exclusion of mandates for abortion, the protection of abortion funding prohibitions, and the assurance of conscience rights, insists that the mandating of end of life consultation for anyone regardless of age or condition would place undue pressure on the individual or guardian to opt for measures to end life, and would send the message that they are no longer of value to society.

The nurses’ statement concludes, “We believe those lives and all lives are valuable and to be respected and cared for to the best of our abilities. Care must be provided for any human being in need of care regardless of disability or level of function or dependence on others in accordance with the 1999 Supreme Court Decision in Olmstead v. L.C.” (www.nursesforlife.org/napnstatement.pdf)

Recently, Bishop Walker Nickless of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, commented on the dangers inherent in the establishment of a health care monopoly, drawing a comparison to the experience of HMO plans in our country, where individuals entrusted with keeping the cost of health care at a minimum may refuse to authorize helpful or necessary treatment for their clients. (See Bishop Walker Nickless, Column in The Catholic Globe, August 13, 2009)

C. The “Right to Acquisition of Health Care” in the Teaching of the Church The “Right to Health Care” as taught by the Church is a companion to the fundamental right to life, and rights to other necessities, among them food, clothing, and shelter. It may be best understood as a “Right to Acquire the Means of Procuring for One’s Self and One’s Family these goods, and concomitantly, a duty to exercise virtue (diligence, thrift, charity) in every aspect of their acquisition and discharge. This language of rights, coupled with duties toward those who ‘through no fault of their own’ are unable to work, is present throughout papal teaching, and only reinforces the idea that, in its proper perspective, the goal is to live and to work and ‘to be looked after’ only in the event of real necessity.” (Source: Catholic Medical Association, 2004 document, Health Care in America. – bold and italics our own)

The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it. Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the “right” to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of “entitlement.” The teaching of the Universal Church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services. Rather, the Church has asserted the rights of every individual to have access to those things most necessary for sustaining and caring for human life, while at the same time insisting on the personal responsibility of each individual to care properly for his or her own health.

Indeed part of the crisis in today’s system stems from various misappropriations within health care insurance systems of exorbitant elective treatments, or the tendencies to regard health care services paid for by insurance as “free,” and to take advantage of services that happen to be available under the insurance plan. Such practices may arguably cripple the ability of small companies to provide necessary opportunities to their employees and significantly increase the cost of health care for everyone.

D. The Right to Make Health Care Decisions for Self and Family Following both the notions of subsidiarity mentioned above and the sense of the life and dignity of every human person, it is vital to preserve, on the part of individuals and their families, the right to make well-informed decisions concerning their care. This is why some system of vouchers – at least on a theoretical level – is worthy of consideration. Allowing persons who through no fault of their own are unable to work, to have some means to acquire health care brings with it a greater sense of responsibility and ownership which, in a more centralized system, may be more vulnerable to abusive tendencies.

When the individual has a personal, monetary stake or a financial obligation to pay even a portion of the cost of medical care, prudence comes to bear - with greater consistency – on such decisions, and unnecessary costs are minimized. Valuing the right of individuals to have a direct say in their care favors a reform which, reflecting subsidiarity, places responsibility at the lowest level.

E. Obligation of Prudent Preventative Care All individuals, including those who receive assistance for health care, might be given incentives for good preventative practices: proper diet, moderate exercise, and moderation of tobacco and alcohol use. As Bishop Nickless reminds us in his statement, “The gift of life comes only from God, and to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong.” (Ibid.)

Some categories of positive preventative health care, however, may not easily be procured apart from medical intervention. Pre-natal and neo-natal care are particularly crucial and should be given priority in any reform. Because of the unique vulnerability of the unborn and newly born child, such services ought to be provided regardless of ability to pay.

In addition to the primordial Principle of the Life and Dignity of the Human Person delivered in a way which respects subsidiarity, we might look briefly at two other principles which promote justice in the consideration of health care.

II. Principle of the Obligation to the Common Good: Why We Must Act

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the obligation to promote the common good as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and easily.” (CCC #1906)

It is very clear that, respectful of this principle, we must find some way to provide a safety net for people in need without diminishing personal responsibility or creating an inordinately bureaucratic structure which will be vulnerable to financial abuse, be crippling to our national economy, and remove the sense of humanity from the work of healing and helping the sick.

The Church clearly advocates authentic reform which addresses this obligation, while respecting the fundamental dignity of persons and not undermining the stability of future generations.

Both of us in our family histories have had experiences that make us keenly aware of the necessity for society to provide a safety net to families who suffer catastrophic losses. Yet, these safety nets are not intended to create permanent dependency for individuals or families upon the State, but rather to provide them with the opportunity to regain control of their own lives and their own destiny.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: catholic; obamacare; subsidiarity
A must read. There are still some CATHOLIC bishops around!
1 posted on 09/02/2009 7:37:41 AM PDT by fabrizio
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To: fabrizio

It’s good. The Catholic principle of subsidiarity essentially rules out any mega-system like the one Obama is trying to impose, and I’m glad they mentioned it.

It is obvious that he’ll just get around the pro-life objections by lying. But the essential matter is that having one’s life taken over by the State like that is simply unChristian.


2 posted on 09/02/2009 7:45:01 AM PDT by livius
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To: fabrizio

Any Catholic who supports more government control of health care is nuts. Slowly the government will force all religion and religious conscience out of the health care industry. That can’t be a positive development for the hundreds of Catholic hospitals around the country. I have no doubt if government gets their hands around health care, no hospital or doctor would be able to refuse providing abortions.


3 posted on 09/02/2009 7:45:15 AM PDT by Always Right
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To: fabrizio

Good find. BTTT


4 posted on 09/02/2009 7:47:18 AM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: fabrizio

If this can be condensed to three bullet points, then this will be the death blow to government health/death care.

Suggestions:
1. No abortion or end of life legislation
2. Having government involved doesn’t make it better.
3. Government plan is against Church teaching.


5 posted on 09/02/2009 7:49:40 AM PDT by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners)
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To: fabrizio
Awesome!

This says just about everything I was thinking.

I'm forwarding a copy to my archbishop. Hope he reads it.

6 posted on 09/02/2009 7:50:39 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: All
Here is, IMHO, the key point if you don't want to read the whole thing:

"change itself does not guarantee improvement. Many of the proposals which have been promoted would diminish the protection of human life and dignity and shift our health care costs and delivery to a centralized government bureaucracy. Centralization carries the risk of a loss of personal responsibility, reduction in personalized care for the sick and an expanded bureaucracy that in the end leads to higher costs."

7 posted on 09/02/2009 7:54:45 AM PDT by icwhatudo ("laws requiring compulsory abortion could be sustained under the existing Constitution"Obama Adviser)
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To: fabrizio; nickcarraway; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

8 posted on 09/02/2009 8:04:30 AM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: fabrizio
1) There are many people – typically cited as 47 million – without medical insurance.

This may be correct but it is not, in itself, a symptom of a defect in our system. Many uninsured people have access to insurance but choose not to buy it, or to access it (in the case of government programs).

2) The cost of health insurance continues to rise, with medical spending in the U.S. at $2.2 trillion in 2007, constituting 17% of the Gross Domestic Product, and predicted to double within 10 years.

Medical spending is different from the cost of health insurance. Medical spending rising is not, in itself, a problem. The more people buy health care, the more spending will increase. There is a skewed supply and demand dynamic at work by the introduction of the “third party payor.” Until this fundamental economic dynamic is corrected, demand for health care (and consequently medical spending) will continue to increase.

3) The Medicare Trust Fund is predicted to be insolvent by 2019.

This is a symptom of irresponsible government spending, not a symptom of a problem with the health care system. The fact that our government has spent the money on other things is not attributable to the health care system.

4) Mandated health insurance benefits for full-time workers have created an incentive for companies to hire part-time rather than full-time employees.

Mandated health insurance benefits for full-time workers are not, in the present system, prevalent enough to have had an effect on the health care system. Whether this statement is true or false (it is unsubstantiated) it is not a symptom of a problem with the health care system but a problem of the law of unintended consequences and with the way the road to hell is paved.

5) Similarly, the much higher cost to employers for family health coverage, as compared to individual coverage, places job candidates with many dependents at a disadvantage in a competitive market.

I have worked in employee benefits for over 20 years and I have never seen a single case where a job applicant with family was put at a disadvantage over a single applicant because of the cost of covering the family under the group insurance plan.

6) Individuals with pre-existing conditions who most need medical care are often denied the means to acquire it.

This “symptom” confuses access to care with access to insurance. What, exactly, are the “means to acquire” medical care? If you define “means to acquire” as insurance then the statement is true. The fact is that very very few people in this country die because they are denied access to health care, whether they are insured or not.

All this being said, the proposals offered by these bishops are spot on. I wish they had spent a little more care stating the need.

9 posted on 09/02/2009 8:23:04 AM PDT by trad_anglican
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To: fabrizio

This was a real pleasure to read. In the mounting hysteria being promoted by the Plan’s supporters (should I say Plans’?) it is reassuring to read clear and comprehensive reasoning by Godly men of intelligence and moral clarity.


10 posted on 09/02/2009 8:26:58 AM PDT by BelegStrongbow (I'm still waiting for the One to say something that isn't a lie)
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To: fabrizio

This was good summary of the problem


Some symptoms of the inadequacy of our present health care polices are:

1) There are many people – typically cited as 47 million – without medical insurance.

2) The cost of health insurance continues to rise, with medical spending in the U.S. at $2.2 trillion in 2007, constituting 17% of the Gross Domestic Product, and predicted to double within 10 years. (Source: Office of Public Affairs, 2008: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/proj2008.pdf ).

3) The Medicare Trust Fund is predicted to be insolvent by 2019.

4) Mandated health insurance benefits for full-time workers have created an incentive for companies to hire part-time rather than full-time employees.

5) Similarly, the much higher cost to employers for family health coverage, as compared to individual coverage, places job candidates with many dependents at a disadvantage in a competitive market.

6) Individuals with pre-existing conditions who most need medical care are often denied the means to acquire it.


Sorry - What is missing is a good summary of the solution for each of these problems. Should the government be the solution, should the government mandate the solution or leave it up to the insurance companies. That’s the solution decision debated.


11 posted on 09/02/2009 8:54:07 AM PDT by ex-snook ("Above all things, truth beareth away the victory.")
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To: Salvation

I just added a “key” keyword to the thread - SUBSIDIARITY!


12 posted on 09/02/2009 9:25:00 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
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To: fabrizio; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
The right of every individual to access health care does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to provide it. Yet in our American culture, Catholic teaching about the “right” to healthcare is sometimes confused with the structures of “entitlement.”

Catholic Ping
Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list


13 posted on 09/02/2009 9:31:57 AM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: icwhatudo
change itself does not guarantee improvement.

I saw that too. 0bama is the poster child.

14 posted on 09/02/2009 9:41:32 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
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To: fabrizio

Bookmark!!!

The first time I’ve seen a US bishop reference subsidiarity in reference to this.

Bravi!!!


15 posted on 09/02/2009 10:36:13 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: Salvation

Marking for later read. Thank you, Salvation.


16 posted on 09/02/2009 12:03:57 PM PDT by MaggieCarta (We're all Detroiters now.)
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To: fabrizio

bttt


17 posted on 09/02/2009 12:41:28 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("He who loves his neighbor, has fulfilled the whole law." Romans 13:8)
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To: Always Right

The one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned much..

Under the proposed system, the doctors willing to practice with under the regulations , you wouldn’t trust to provide care to a pet.

Would you trust your life to a Mengele.


18 posted on 09/02/2009 12:42:36 PM PDT by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
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To: fabrizio
And Pope Benedict writes: “The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person -every person -needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need.

Precisely!!

19 posted on 09/02/2009 7:09:38 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: fabrizio

I just love Bishop Finn..


20 posted on 09/02/2009 8:02:06 PM PDT by Milly (An Aggie Grama .)
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To: Milly

“I just love Bishop Finn..”

Me, too! After moving around all over the place, finally settling in the KC area has been a blessing with this man and our current parish. He is truly a remarkable man.


21 posted on 09/02/2009 8:25:19 PM PDT by samiam1972 ("It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."-Mother Teresa)
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To: fabrizio

ping


22 posted on 09/06/2009 5:41:17 PM PDT by Juana la Loca
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