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Catholic Health Association's Support for Health Care Bill Exposes Failure of USCCB Strategy

By Deal Hudson

The Catholic Health Association, a lobbying group for Catholic hospitals, has now offered its support for the health care bill containing abortion funding.  A  statement from CHA president, Sr. Carol Keehan, expresses “concern on life issues” while underscoring the bill’s requirement that “a separate check” would have to be written for abortion coverage.

Keehan’s statement, along with the March 11 letter of her vice president, Michael F. Rodgers to the Congress, is a masterpiece of doublespeak. On behalf of CHA, both Keehan and Rodgers urge passage of the bill. But, while Keehan cites the separate check stipulation for abortion coverage to assuage her “concern,” Rodgers admits abortion coverage would have to be “amended” in a second “corrections” bill.

The position of the Catholic Health Association and its member hospitals puts CHA in direct opposition to the Catholic bishops who have stated unambiguously that the Senate health care bill contains abortion funding.  Bishop Robert F. Lynch of St. Petersburg is on the CHA board, while Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth is its Episcopal Liaison. Other board members include the four CEOs and seven VPs of Catholic hospital systems.

The Catholic Health Association has long enjoyed an intimate relationship with the USCCB. CHA is often cited by the USCCB as a partner, along with Catholic Charities USA.  For example, in September 2008, Sr. Keehan co-signed a letter with the head of Catholic Charities USA and Bishop William F. Murphy, Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urging Congress to pass a stimulus plan. CHA has also been involved in joint efforts with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in welfare-to-work projects.

The long list of such collaborative efforts between CHA and the USCCB is easily found by searching the USCCB website.

At present, the USCCB has not issued any statement directly opposing the Catholic Health Association or any of the Catholic groups supporting the Senate bill such as Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

The lack of such a statement allows the press, the White House, and the Congress to hold up these groups as providing official Catholic support to a public which largely does not know any better.

A direct rebuke from the USCCB towards the Catholic Health Association would not be in keeping with what I have termed its strategy of qualified support, but it would certainly keep wavering members of Congress from finding political cover from these groups willing to accept abortion funding.

With a vote on the bill coming as soon as Friday or Saturday, the USCCB is running out of time to get tough.  The parish bulletin program emailed last Friday by the USCCB comes too late to have any serious impact on a vote this week.

The willingness of such an intimate partner with the USCCB to break with the bishops on the health care bill is just another aspect of its failure to negotiate powerfully with Congress and speak loudly and clearly to the media on this legislation.  Its strategy of qualified support has put the USCCB in a weakened position and allowed the initiative to be taken over by groups with vested interests.  CHA wants federal money for its hospitals, while Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good were created precisely to keep Democrats in power, even if it means further endangering the lives of the unborn.

It’s common sense that you can’t win a negotiation if you aren’t willing to walk away from the table.  Thus far, the USCCB hasn’t shown that willingness. Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando understood this when he wrote a few days ago, “No health-care legislation is better than bad health-care legislation.”

It’s alarming to hear the nonchalant attitude of those who remark how many other countries have government-run health care systems that pay for abortions, so why not us?  Bishop Wenski knows what it is that has so many Catholics outraged at the prospect of this bill being passed:

“Using taxpayers’ money to pay for other people’s abortions would make all citizens complicit in what many regard as a morally heinous act. . . . Whatever you might call it, a procedure that results in the death of a living human being — whether at the beginning or end of life — is not health care.”

Special Message from Catholic Advocate:

Are you concerned about the Catholic Health Association’s position on the health care reform legislation?

According to their website “CHA’s Vision…the Catholic health ministry will be a vibrant presence in enhancing the health of communities and access to quality care for everyone, with special attention to those who are underserved and most vulnerable.”

Let them know it is important to stand for the most vulnerable – the unborn.

Click here to visit the Catholic Health Association’s contact information.

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10 Responses to Catholic Health Association's Support for Health Care Bill Exposes Failure of USCCB Strategy

  1. sean mc mahon says:

    please protect the most vulnerable among us – the womb used to be the safest place on earth!

  2. Dave Mattozzi says:

    Support the Catholic Faith and Life. No funding of abortions in heath care reform.

  3. mimi pushaw says:

    thank you for posting this. i wonder how many Catholics will see it. we are deluged with information; and even i am getting battle weary, despite my being a news junkie and passionately pro-life. I have gone to washington d.c., to philadelphia & harrisburg PA, at my own expense, over the past year; as have plenty of pro-life, pro-liberty people. I feel disappointed, disheartened and also outrage that our clerical-religious leaders are betraying the committed pro-life laity. Instead of standing with us in the pro-life cause (and I do mean actually STANDING with us , at rallies and at Congressional offices) they stab us in the back; they undermine all our good efforts. They do not have to worry about paychecks; child-care; paying taxes. This entire situation, on top of the ongoing pedophilia scandals, make it damn hard to defend our church when grilled by other Christians. I mean: what the heck are we supposed to say in defense of the bishops and nuns who are scandalous? We can’t say anything. Because their words, posturing and behavior is indefensible. Still, I would hate to leave the Catholic Church. This is a painful, confusing time to be a Roman Catholic.
    finally, this so-called healthcare reform legislation is not only reprehensible because of its funding of abortions; it also moves us into something approximating a marxist state. Jesus Christ wants us to be free; not slaves of the civil state. The Catholics in this country have no idea what true free markets entail; what communism is; and how their idiotic, naive ideas of “social justice” is anything but truly just. There are plenty of scholarly workks , books, research papers which describe truly free, truly just reforms for our healthcare system.
    The first people the statists/marxists/communists murder or incarcerate are the priests.
    This entire situation just disgusts me.

  4. Cheryl Adams says:

    I, too, am appalled that a “Catholic” health organization would support this deplorable effort to impose on us the heinous act of abotion by making our tax dollars pay for abortions. However, whatever other political “Catholics” say or do, I would in no way under any circumstance abandon the Catholic Church. This is exactly what the devil is trying to do to us…make us doubt our Church. There are more of us who believe and follow the Church’s teachings than the media and others would have us think. Our Blessed Mother has been calling us to pray, fast, and repent. It’s time to up our efforts to follow her call for our sake and the sake of the Body of Christ.

  5. TOM GOERGEN says:

    I tried to go to the CHA website to register my very real concern of how Catholic can this association be. But, of course, after their announcement of support for this death bill the “contact us” part of their website isn’t working. Isn’t that amazing, just like Democrat Congressmen’s office phones.

  6. Juanita Estrada says:

    Backing the bill is not something Jesus would have done, because it is like saying Jesus would be in bed with the Roman government. Any progressive/socialist/communist/marxist program is not good for anyone, in fact it is evil wrapped in sheep’s clothing. I’ve been without health insurance because of being unemployed or job didn’t offer it and was scared of getting hurt (I didn’t know at the time that there were programs out there that you paid based on percentage of income and it was my job to get my lazy rear into gear to better my situation and not whine and depend on govt crutches), I am not a good risk and I am even prochoice, but I don’t believe govt should pay for abortions for so many reasons (it will lead to the number of children allowed to have for certain people and eugenics) or pay for healthcare, they should get out of the way and let the freemarket bring the costs down and allow for advances in healthcare. Why do you think Canadians and others have come to this country for our great healthcare. Socialism doesn’t work, it has allowed more patients to die due to rationing, waiting, etc.

  7. Juanita Estrada says:

    Education is the key to stopping and preventing bills like this, it is more than the abortion issue. You have to know your enemy who uses the sheeps clothing of supposedly helping people when it is really wanting big govt to control our lives down to each detail. Socialism/communism/marxism/progressivism/liberalism is the enemy and if you study history past and what is really happening in the present in our country and others and study how they snake into different groups or use masks to push little by little to change our country and others. If you learn about the history of our country and our great constitution you will feel as if our founders and the writers of our great document were inspired by God.

  8. Juanita Estrada says:

    Support for the bill is the same thing as supporting the people who are behind this bill. And the people behind this bill are the people who believe in eugenics and cold-blooded murderers like Mao (who “took care” of his people).

  9. Annie Brewer says:

    I am fairly shocked by the CHA’s support of the President and N. Pelosi’s Healthcare Reform Bill. And not only because of the funding the bill provides toward abortion, but because the Bill is fundamentally wrong for our country. The cost of this Bill alone is a monumental issue that destroys the financial stability of an already de-stabilized economy. This Bill will put our country is such dire financial straits that our citizenry will have their backs broken serving Washington to pay for this legislation. The issue of instituting totalitarian law through this Bill, is real and not rhetoric–never before in this country’s history has such a grab for government power over the people been brokered by a President and his party, unions, media, and now the Catholic Health Association with such narrow, but single-minded goals in social reconstruction of our Democratic Republic. I am saddened that the church I grew up in is taking part in the demise of freedom as we know it.

  10. heidi ifft says:

    Catholics all over this country need to unite and demand that this left-wing fringe organization remove the word “Catholic” from their official name. I have been fighting with them for two weeks. I need some backup support.

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