On March 22, 2016, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke on the House floor in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in their fight against the Affordable Care Act’s HHS mandate through which the U.S. Government is forcing them to violate their religious beliefs.
Below are Speaker Ryan’s full remarks as delivered:
“Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. And today, I stand in support of the Little Sisters.
“Mr. Speaker, this is an order of Catholic nuns who serve the elderly poor in 31 countries. We talk a lot about public service up here. Well, these are the people who live it. They are the definition of public service.
“In fact, I had the honor of hosting two of the sisters at the State of the Union address this January. And I was amazed to hear of all the good work that they do. So the last thing the federal government should do is make their jobs harder. But that, unfortunately, is exactly what this administration is doing.
“Under the health-care law, the Department of Health and Human Services is insisting on a regulation that requires the sisters to offer benefits that violate their religious beliefs. The administration claims to have offered them an ‘accommodation.’ But it is just a fig leaf. So this is the choice that they are facing: Either violate your faith or pay up to $70 million a year in fines.
“Mr. Speaker, there is no good reason for any of this. A full one third of the American people are exempt from this regulation. So why insist that the sisters—of all people—follow it? There are other ways to protect people’s health—that do not violate people’s faith.
“And Mr. Speaker, it is clear to anyone with eyes to see that this regulation is a violation of theReligious Freedom Restoration Act. A broad, bipartisan majority in Congress voted for that law. And what Congress said was this: The burden is not on your faith to obey government mandates. The burden is on the government to respect your faith.
“Mr. Speaker, that is the very meaning of religious liberty. That is one of our founding principles. That is why we should do everything we can to let people live out their faith. That is why many colleagues of mine and I have joined an amicus brief asking the Court to grant the sisters the relief that they deserve.
“And that is why I am here today—to stand in defense of the sisters, to stand in defense of the law, and to stand in defense of religious liberty. Thank you.”
The Little Sister of the Poor were on Capitol Hill this morning meeting with Congressman Diane Black (R, TN-06) to discuss their ongoing fight against President Obama’s HHS mandate. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Little Sisters of the Poor legal challenge next year.
After the meeting Representative Black said:
“It is hard to imagine what could possibly be more pure or worthwhile than the ministry of Little Sisters of the Poor. For over 175 years, they have provided compassionate care to the most vulnerable among us. We should be praising their work, not punishing it. Sadly, that is exactly what Obamacare’s coercive HHS mandate will do. The law sets up an impossible choice for this ministry: deny their deeply held beliefs and provide coverage for drugs they deem to be morally objectionable, or face up to $70 million in annual penalties. I am honored to lend my voice and my prayers to the growing chorus calling on the Supreme Court to rectify this crisis and protect religious freedom from government attack when it hears this case next year. In the meantime, Congress should also do its part and finally pass my legislation, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which would provide full exemption from this oppressive mandate once and for all.”
Representatives of the Little Sisters of the Poor meeting with Rep. Diane Black (R, TN-06) author of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.
Ever since President Obama’s health care law went into effect, Members of Congress have been fighting to roll back the infringements on religious liberty and conscience protections.
Three consistent leaders on the issue – Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-01), and Congressman John Fleming (R-LA-04) – have once again introduced legislation to fix this intrusion and violation of our liberties.
Below is the text of the press release announcing introduction of the legislation.
Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-01), and Congressman John Fleming (R-LA-04) announced the reintroduction of H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. The bill would protect Americans’ freedom of conscience and stop the Obama Administration’s attack on religious liberty. H.R. 940 offers full exemption from Obamacare’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and ensures protections for individuals and healthcare entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer patients to abortion providers because of their deeply held beliefs.
The legislation would also specifically address the unlawful violation of religious freedom in California, where the state Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) issued a directive requiring that all insurance plans offered on the state exchange include coverage for abortions, including plans provided by churches, religious entities, and others with conscionable objections to such procedures. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act has the bipartisan support of 110 cosponsors.
“Religious freedom is a bedrock value of our society but, on President Obama’s watch, this time-honored principle is under assault,” said Congressman Diane Black. “From Obamacare’s coercive HHS mandate to the unlawful, pro-abortion directive by the state boards in California, it is clear that Congress must act where the White House will not and reverse this infringement of our First Amendment rights. That is why our bill offers full exemption from the HHS mandate and provides needed legal protections for healthcare entities who refuse to partake in the barbaric practice of abortion. As a nurse for more than 40 years, I am proud to introduce this legislation that will safeguard the conscience rights of every American and ensure that more unborn lives can be saved in the process.”
“The rights of conscience and religious freedom preexist the government. They are rights grounded by the demands of human dignity and are enshrined in our Constitution. It is a true poverty—that in the name of health care—this most cherished American principle is under assault, violating longstanding legislative agreement and precedent. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act restores this principle for all Americans,” said Congressman Jeff Fortenberry.
“The Administration’s actions are a direct assault on Americans’ religious liberties, forcing people of faith to violate their deeply held religious beliefs,” said Congressman John Fleming. “H.R. 940 will get at the heart of the issue: providing protections against coercive government practices; codifying the Weldon amendment to allow physicians and health care entities to provide quality care without being forced to participate in an abortion; and providing a private right of action so that victims of government discrimination can seek justice.”
Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Ruling
The Supreme Court rejected Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate in favor of family businesses in last year’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stories, Inc. verdict, however Congressional action is still needed to bring clarity to this debate. Following the court’s ruling, HHS devised an “accommodation” that still requires closely held, faith-based businesses to contract out with insurance companies that will provide coverage for the morally objectionable drugs and devices. The Obama Administration’s workaround does nothing to allow small business owners the freedom to provide health care plans that match their values, it simply removes the employers’ “fingerprints” from the transaction.
California Abortion Directive
On August 22, 2014, California’s DMHC issued a directive requiring that all plans offered on their exchanges – including those purchased by churches and religious charities – to include coverage for abortion. This is a direct violation of a longstanding federal law known as the Weldon Amendment. Reps. Fleming, Black, and Fortenberry – among other members – led a November 25, 2014 letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell calling attention to this injustice. To date, the Administration has not responded. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act would specifically address this overreach.
NETWORK, a DC Catholic lobbying organization, has been little known outside the Beltway since its founding by Catholic sisters in 1971. Within the Beltway and in the media, NETWORK is known as a Catholic organization whose representatives often visit members of Congress but never to advocate on behalf of the unborn or the true meaning of marriage.
When President Clinton presented the Presidential Citizen’s Medal in 2001 to one of NETWORK’s founders, he praised the “national Catholic lobby that has mobilized thousands of nuns and lay people to fight for social progress in South Africa, for women’s rights and for economic justice.”
Yet, it was during the debate over Obamacare when NETWORK attracted national attention. As NETWORK describes proudly on its web site: “….during the 2010 health care reform struggle, NETWORK Executive Director Simone Campbell, SSS, wrote the “nuns’ letter” supporting the bill and got 59 signers on the letter, including LCWR. She was thanked by President Obama and invited to the ceremony celebrating its being signed into law.” (more…)
One of the most tragic results of the new health law is that it will make it harder for many of the most vulnerable in our country to get the medical care they need. This is especially true for patients covered by Medicaid, the government program that pays medical bills for the poor.
For many, Medicaid is a paper promise. It covers an almost unlimited list of medical services, but in reality, Medicaid patients find it hard to find a private doctor who can afford to provide actual medical care. That’s because Medicaid pays doctors and hospitals only about half as much as private payers do — far below their costs of providing the care.
The problem is particularly acute with specialists. One Florida doctor reported that, after a long battle with the state over payment for treating a patient with complex lung disease, he received a check from Medicaid for one penny.
About 16 million people — half of the 32 million who are expected to get health coverage under the new health law — will be enrolled in Medicaid in January of 2014, with almost no changes to improve or modernize the cumbersome, complex, and wasteful program.
This large Medicaid expansion could have catastrophic effects on those who provide society’s health care safety net. (more…)
It was long in coming: An August 26 open letter signed by many of the Catholics who have cheered on President Obama and his administration have asked that the health care policy be changed to allow conscience protection for religious institutions.
Among the signatories are Professors Fr. Thomas Reese of Georgetown, Lisa Sowie Cahill of Boston College, Margaret Steinfels of Fordham, and Nicholas Cafardi of Duquesne. All are Obama supporters, and all signed a 2009 letter circulated by Professor Stephen Schneck of the Catholic University of America in defense of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius when, because of her support for abortion, she was not to receive communion.
Now, ironically, these same Catholic, Obama supporters are asking Secretary Sebelius to change a policy that would force Catholic institutions to offer contraception and abortion in the name of “health care.” Their 2009 letter described Sebelius as “a woman of deep faith” but obviously not deep enough to care about using the power of the government to close down Catholic hospitals that would not abide by HHS policy. (more…)
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, rightly observes a “Catch-22” in the Obama administration’s decision to mandate that all health care plans offer free contraceptive and sterilization services to women.
Donohue points out that the exception made for religious institutions, such as Catholic hospitals, is a sham. That exception applies only to religious institutions “that primarily employs, and serves, persons who share its religious tenets.” (more…)
On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report they are marketing as “Greater use of preventive care could have a profound impact on the nation’s health. The IOM identifies which services are important to women’s health and well-being and should be covered under the Affordable Care Act.”
The pro-abortion/pro-birth control community is toasting this report and it will likely be used repeatedly as justification for their cause.
We at Catholic Advocate thought it was important to share the thoughts of the Catholic Medical Association on the report. At the end of their articulate assessment of the report, they call on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to reject this report. Unfortunately, past decisions by Kathleen Sabelius, the former Governor of Kansas and a Catholic, lead us to believe she will embrace this report. (more…)
“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” (CCC 2288).
The issue of health care dominated the debate during the 2010 election. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, attempts to provide universal care for American citizens long supported by the bishops.
Some people falsely assume that for health care to be universal it must be managed by the federal government. In fact, the bishops have never stipulated how universal health care – reasonable access for everyone to adequate health care – should be achieved. It could have been achieved by a combination of personal and corporate insurance coverage, supplemented by philanthropic and governmental programs. (more…)
“Ruling affirms Catholic Church’s Teaching on Subsidiarity”
WASHINGTON – Catholic Advocate applauds today’s ruling by District Judge Roger Vinson, finding the individual mandate in “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” unconstitutional and, therefore, the entire law unconstitutional.
“Catholics should applaud this ruling since it affirms the Church’s teaching on subsidiarity — based upon a historic concern about centralized governmental power — and individual freedom,” said Catholic Advocate President Deal Hudson. (more…)