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The Health Care Reform Bill. I will be the first one to admit that I don’t know much about politics. The following things are more interesting to me than politics: the cell division and multiplication of fungi in stagnate water in southeast Texas, watching paint dry, learning the theory behind actuarial science, the mating ritual of some extinct frog that only existed in New Zealand. You get the point. I have tried countless times to keep up with bills that are trying to be passed, candidates running for election, city council stuff. I just can’t do it. I even have tried to subscribe to newsletters that dumb it down and simplify all this political stuff but I still can’t seem to wrap my head around it.
That being said, sometimes issues come along that are big enough to even catch my interest, ie. the Health Care Reform Bill.
Our health care system is crazy messed up. It is too hard and too expensive for people to access health care. I worked at a clinic that served undocumented immigrants. They have no way of getting health care unless they are pregnant or literally on their death bed but they have all the same medical problems that citizens have. I know this bill won’t help undocumented immigrants but I’m sure American citizens living in poverty struggle with the same inability to access affordable health care. These people have diabetes, cancer, heart problems, high cholesterol, thyroid problems, allergies, and life-threatening diseases, too. Even if you find a doctor that is somewhat inexpensive to see, the meds that people need are so expensive. Sure the hospital has to care for people if they go to the emergency room but they are not taken seriously at all. I’ve seen people discharged from the hospitals after amputations with no pain meds. I’ve met a women who literally had cancer growing out of her side discharged with no medical plan for Hospice or anything. If you don’t have insurance, you’re just screwed.
Our health care system sucks. I was very surprised to find that the USCCB is not in support of the HCR bill because of two points outlined by Cardinal DiNardo in a letter to Reps. The first point is that the bill allows federal funding to be used for elective abortions (which has been answered with Obama’s executive order). The second is that the bill does not help give legal immigrants universal health care but rather makes them wait five years to receive Medicaid. Has anyone even heard of the second point? No, because the pro-life lobby has decided that abortion is the end all be all of the Catholic conscience.
I have always and still do trust the wisdom of the Church. I believe that bishops have been given this authority to guide their flock. But I can’t quite understand where the disconnect happened with the USCCB. Around election time back in November, the USCCB kept saying that we cannot be single issue voters. We cannot vote Republican just based on the abortion issue. We have to take all issues into account and make a decision. But now the USCCB is saying that we cannot support the HCR bill because it does not specifically uphold the Hyde Amendment? This seems to be going against what they had previously told us. So we should completely discredit a bill that would help 30 million people receive health care? I just do not understand their reasoning.
I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of Obama’s reform but why not give it a shot. At least he’s trying to do something. At least he’s not just throwing his hands in the air and saying, “This is messed up but it’s too complicated to fix.” At least there is a plan to make it better. Why not try.
I’m all for trusting our bishops and following their shepherding but I’m really tired of bishops and priests implying that we are bad Catholics if we are not Republicans. Abortion is a HUGE issue, I agree. I believe that abortion should be abolished as much as the next pro-lifer but am I really a bad Catholic if I think that this bill is a good thing? Can we really look at politics in such a black and white manner? Oh, the HCR would put into action the Preferential Option for the Poor but if there is not explicit wording against abortion then we have to scrap the whole thing.
The pro-life lobby is clamoring that the Hyde Amendment wording be put into the bill or it shouldn’t be approved. But if we are going to continue on this totally uncompromising train of thought then shouldn’t they want even more than the Hyde Amendment? The Hyde Amendment still allows for abortion in cases of rape, incest, and mother endangerment. The Church believes that abortion is never ok, even in these cases (of course these cases would require plenty of support and counseling and pastoral care). But why stop there, let’s not support health care reform if it pays for birth control which is also against Church teaching? Or if it pays for Viagara prescriptions? Or if it pays for the MMR and chickenpox vaccines because these vaccines were developed from fetuses? Can we really play this all or nothing game with politics? Then we could never vote for anyone or anything. Neither party perfectly upholds Catholic morals. So who got to decide that abortion would decide everything?
Even after all this criticism, Obama has issued an executive order upholding the Hyde Amendment. But the pro-life lobby is still not happy saying that an executive order is useless. But of course these are the same people that applauded Bush for his executive order limiting stem cell research.
Obama is holding up his end of the deal. He said from the beginning that he is open to conversation and that he is keeping an open mind in these discussions regarding abortion. This is him giving a little. Can’t we give a little and give him the benefit of the doubt?
Seriously something has to be done about health care. Enough talking. Our system needs to be shaken up. Time for action.
I really love the Church and know that the Holy Spirit works through its leaders. I especially have the utmost respect for Cardinal DiNardo who I believe is a good, good man and a good shepherd. But really, I don’t understand this.
God help us.
Here are some more interesting articles I’ve come across: