Dana Pico, you are compelled!

Saturday, November 7th, 2009 @ 2:07 pm | Health Care

The Catholics endorse the health care reform bill.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops delivered a critical endorsement to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday by signing off on late-night agreement to grant a vote on an amendment barring insurance companies that participate in the exchange from covering abortions.

“Passing this amendment allows the House to meet our criteria of preserving the existing protections against abortion funding in the new legislation,” the Bishops wrote in a letter to individual members. “Most importantly, it will ensure that no government funds will be used for abortion or health plans which include abortion.”

The group goes on to say, “The Conference will remain vigilant and involved through this entire process to assure that these essential provisions are maintained and included in the final legislation. With this important step forward we hope the House can come together and finally move forward essential reform which truly will protect the life, dignity, conscience and health of all. We also hope the Senate will follow the example of the House and include these essential safeguards in their version of health care reform legislation.”

Keeping tax dollars away from abortions certainly angers some, including our own Thomas Tallis. However staunchly pro-choice I am, I still understand and perceive the moral repugnance of the actual deed. I oppose restrictions on women’s rights, but that doesn’t translate into an entitlement of cash to do them. People have a say in how their tax dollars are spent, and I think ultimately it’s fair to grant people the right not to have their tax dollars spent on something they abhor so much. If that concession brings the Catholic Church on board with everything else, I think it’s a valid compromise that respects and balances everybody’s rights.

-jb

UPDATE: Comments thread has shifted my thoughts somewhat. When you look at the fine print, it’s a horrible deal that holds trillions of private dollars hostage. Can’t lose it fast enough, and it isn’t going to change anybody’s vote about the final bill.

16 Responses to “Dana Pico, you are compelled!”

  1. ajkamper Says:

    Until everyone gets in on the exchange and then it becomes impossible for lower-income women to get abortions. It’s not a matter of spending our tax money on it; it’s that anyone who participates in the exchange market can’t insure abortions.

    I’m not all that pro-choice, but I’m very concerned about this possibility.

  2. jeromy Says:

    I encourage organizations like Planned Parenthood to pick up the slack. We’re talking about a $500-1000 procedure here. I’m still paying down a $4K operation I had two years ago. It’s unfortunate but it’s not a restriction of one’s rights.

  3. jeromy Says:

    http://www.nnaf.org/

  4. ajkamper Says:

    Would you feel the same way about birth control–if insurers who provided birth control weren’t part of the exchange?

  5. jeromy Says:

    Nope. Objections to birth control are plainly foolish. Fortunately, the Catholics try not to get too strident about it.

    But I believe that a great many pro-choice people support the right to choose without necessarily endorsing both choices. They understand abortion is a grave and drastic measure that should generally be avoided. And they can understand somebody not wishing their federal tax dollars be used to perform abortions.

    I’m not saying this is my position. I’d keep the funding in there if I thought we could get away with it. But I understand there are people who strongly disagree with me, and that a compromise means I don’t necessarily get my own way on everything. As compromises go, I say it’s a fair one.

  6. ajkamper Says:

    But there’s no funding being cut off! Not a drop more of federal money would go to abortions without the amendment than it would with it. If it _were_ a case of funding, I would completely agree with you. But it’s not. It’s a barrier keeping private companies from competing in the marketplace unless they don’t fund abortions, and it threatens to choke off the private market from providing this service.

    I hear your language about compromise, and that makes sense. But I think you need to understand the nature of the compromise. It’s not merely keeping public money from funding abortions; it is severely reducing people’s ability to get abortions through their workplace insurance or through private contract.. If that can be made up by private charities, I suppose that’s great, but I strongly suspect that this will reduce the avenues for abortion available to the lower class.

    Like I said, I’m at best reluctantly pro-choice, so despite my language here I’m not all that bent out of shape. But I’m not thrilled, either.

    (And as a side note, what the heck does the header of this post mean?)

  7. jeromy Says:

    Dana Pico is the lead blogger over at Common Sense Political Thought, and a Catholic. So we rejoice that he is now on board with health care reform!

  8. jeromy Says:

    AJ: You make a very important distinction, and I’d support the reversal of this amendment as soon as possible. But taking a punch on this issue belies the rightwinger’s insistence that this is some radical bill that we’re not compromising on. It’s staggeringly compromised, and our work won’t be done after its passed. All the more insane, then, that the right prattles on about the bill being an un-American Commie plot.

    The passage of this bill is in no small part due to the right being unable to present a coherent counter-argument based on all the facts. They keep discrediting themselves. The Catholic endorsement reminds them that they’re not exactly being very Christ-like at the moment, since Catholics, by the book, should be mortified at the tens of thousands dead or dying because they lack medical coverage.

  9. Dana Says:

    Our esteemed host wrote:

    Dana Pico is the lead blogger over at Common Sense Political Thought, and a Catholic. So we rejoice that he is now on board with health care reform!

    Alas! You seem to have assumed something that simply isn’t true. I see the whole bill, and the notion behind it, as terrible.

    I have absolutely no problem with our esteemed host deciding that he wants to pay for someone else’s health care; indeed, I hope that he does! But that Mr Brown might, in charity, choose to do so does not mean that those who do not sh choose should be compelled to do so anyway.

    I find it humorous that so many of my friends on the left, people who so frequently condemn the private insurance companies and the for-profit health care system, are so eager to support a program based on maintaining the private insurance companies and the for-profit health care system.

    This whole crock of feces is being sold to us as a better, cheaper alternative to what we have now. When I think of the so-called CBO studies which tell us that this will wind up costing us less, I remember how the same CBO told us that Medicare Part D would cost us just $422 billion, when they misguesstimated it before it was passed. After it was passed, the price quickly rose another $100 billion, and, six months later, was over $1 trillion.

    In a simpler, common sense way of putting it: have you ever seen the government take over something from the private sector and make it cheaper?

    This bill — in whatever form it takes — will make our health care system worse, not better. The bishops have mistaken what they see as good intentions for the probability of good performance.

  10. mike Says:

    are so eager to support a program based on maintaining the private insurance companies and the for-profit health care system.

    The costs are always going to be more when you include the incredibly inefficient private sector. The most cost effective way is one that your daughter currently enjoys; single payer. But that was off the table from the get go. And doesn’t your daughter also go to a state college? Why didn’t you send her to a private college if the state system is so awfully deficient?

  11. mike Says:

    In a simpler, common sense way of putting it: have you ever seen the government take over something from the private sector and make it cheaper?

    Have you ever seen the government eliminate the private sector from any of their activities?

  12. ajkamper Says:

    Just to make Mike’s point clear, the government took over insuring the high-risk elderly population from private insurers. Their overhead is on the order of 5%. Private sector overhead is on the order of 20%.

    That’s not quite the same as making it _cheaper,_ but it’s certainly providing the service more efficiently.

  13. Dana Says:

    aj: And Medicare underpays doctors and hospitals by a large margin. I have a long report here, noting that for 2006, Medicare patients cost hospitals $225.1 billion to treat, but that they were reimbursed only $205.7 billion, a 904% operating loss. Medicaid was even worse, reimbursing at 14.7% less than the costs of treating Medicaid patients. Hospitals wound up charging private insurance pay patients a whopping 23.1% more than their treatment costs, yet that gave hospitals nationwide a bare 3.8% profit margin.

    If the whole nation was government-pay, and the government paid for everyone like it pays for Medicare patients, we’d have no health care, because health care providers would all go broke.

  14. Dana Says:

    Mr Ganzeveld wrote:

    And doesn’t your daughter also go to a state college? Why didn’t you send her to a private college if the state system is so awfully deficient?

    Having seen the quality of military medicine, I can’t say that I’m terribly pleased. I’m glad that she’s strong and healthy.

    Penn State is a state school — and I am paying a fair amount in taxes to support that state school. But PFC Pico selected Penn State herself; I didn’t choose it for her.

  15. jeromy Says:

    If the whole nation was government-pay, and the government paid for everyone like it pays for Medicare patients, we’d have no health care, because health care providers would all go broke.

    Of course, this isn’t true because it occurs regularly in other countries.

    Cost cutting is an integral part of reform, and I’m all in favor of the Senate taking more time to look at ways to encourage salaried doctors with incentives for health improvements. It’s already happening in America, and it makes a massive difference.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/11/an_insurance_industry_ceo_expl.html

    Kaiser, the Mayo Clinic and others are leading the way. Single digit percentage private profits after everybody takes home their fat checks don’t bring tears to my eyes.

  16. mike Says:

    904% operating loss.

    That’s actually a 9% loss.

    205.7 x 225.1 = 0.91

    And why it’s supposed to bother me that insurance companies make a 3% profit is a mystery. Can anybody offer an explanation? Apparently it justifies all of the horrors they inflict on patients. If margins are so miserable then perhaps they’re in the wrong business. I’d recommend the garment industry if margins are all that counts.