Southern Religion

Catholic right drifts into troubled waters

Today’s NYT piece by David Kirkpatrick led both Grant Gallicho and Mark Silk to note how the Catholic right has put itself at odds with the church’s social justice position.

Gallicho, himself Catholic, analyzed the comments of Bishop Nickless of Sioux City. Nickless told the NYT:

Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a health care monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined ‘best procedures,’ which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector, in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses.

Gallicho responded:

Government monopoly?
Patient choice?
Does the bishop understand that in several states insurers operate virtual monopolies?
Or that many Americans have no choice when it comes to health insurance? That they take what they can get or else they go broke–or they can’t get it, suffer a catastrophic illness, and break the rest of us?
Are we to believe that the profit motive is better than “bureaucratic standards”?
Is that church teaching too?

Silk summarizes church teaching as recently reflected in Pope Benedict’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. Silk writes:

As I’ve pointed out here, the pope’s encyclical teaches that food, drinkable water, “basic instruction and elementary health care” are all “elementary and basic rights.” Sure there’s politics and prudential judgment involved in determining the best way to provide people with health care, but so is there in determining the best way to provide people with food and drinkable water and breathable air.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a Web site where it takes a stand for the broad, generous health care reform which church social policy implies. And against abortion. Which the Christian Right is attempting to use as a wedge issue by arguing there is unequivocal support for abortion in the various health reform proposals.

Carefully sorting abortion out produces equivocal results that do not support towering rhetoric from either side of the health reform debate. Consider the recent work of Beliefnet’s Steve Waldman on that issue.

As a result, Conservative Catholic bishops who are joining the Christian right on that may find themselves at odds with both church policy and reality.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Health, Medical Care, Obama, Religion | , | Comments Off on Catholic right drifts into troubled waters

Comparing the health reform bills and proposals

Here [.pdf] is a side-by-side comparison of the leading comprehensive health care reform proposals.

It is provided by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Please read all 44 pages of it.

Then the next time someone asks whether you “have read the bill,” you can correctly answer “bills,” and discuss the key issues with confidence.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Health, Politics | | Comments Off on Comparing the health reform bills and proposals

British ‘tough love’ for their NHS & U.S. conservatives

The British have one message for their National Health Service, and another messaged for American conservatives in general and perhaps for the Christian Right drive to stop health reform in this country.

British journalist Claire Rayner writes for the Guardian about National Health Service problems:

There has been an absolutely astounding response to the report the Patients Association released yesterday, detailing examples of neglect of elderly and vulnerable patients. While I was as ever hopeful that the people who so bravely volunteered to take part in this work would feel it had been worthwhile, the response has been staggering. I was shocked and touched reading the stories of patients’ families who have suffered and it seems the rest of the country has been as well.

She outlined a plan of correction and then turned to the awful things being said in the U.S. about the NHS and how “they don’t want a similar system of their own:”

Much as I would like to respond to their ill-informed opinions with a crisp “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn what you think,” let me instead point out that any intelligent American Republican should be able to see clearly that the anger we are expressing shows just how good the NHS normally is. And exposing the fact that we have a few rotten apples (so rare in the US, according to the self-aggrandising politicians I have heard slagging off our system) and are determined to seek them out and deal with them shows how much we care about our vulnerable, frail, and helpless elders.
I have no doubt that eventually this uproar will lead to the finding and application of the necessary remedies and ensure that future care for them will be what it should be – that is, gentle, dignity-protecting and life-extending as far as possible. If the national anger we are hearing in this country, where we love and value our NHS, doesn’t prove to you that we don’t have so-called “death panels” nothing will.

British Journalist Frances Beckett writes:

Anton Chaitkin is just the latest rightwing American commentator to claim that Barack Obama’s healthcare proposals are Nazi. The history editor of the Executive Intelligence Review called them “a revival of Hitler’s euthanasia killing programme”.
. . .
That’s how much the extreme right and the vested interests like the pharmaceutical companies hate healthcare schemes that give security to the poor. Attlee and Bevan, fortified by a large parliamentary majority and strong public support as well as their own courage and political will, pressed on regardless. It instantly transformed the lives of millions of Britons – not just the poorest, but those on moderate fixed incomes too.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson in a column calling for conservative reform of the NHS, writes:

It is sad that the scaremongers appear to be winning the war of words in the US and that they have misrepresented the NHS, using both British patients and doctors who had thought they were appearing in a documentary, not an attack-dog ad.

The British are quite clear about having been misled by American conservatives into appearing in attack ads. The London Daily Mail reports:

Furious Kate Spall and Katie Brickell claim that their views on the NHS have been misrepresented by a free market campaign group opposed to Mr Obama’s reforms in a bid to discredit the UK system.
. . .
Ms Spall, whose mother died of kidney cancer while waiting for treatment in the UK, told The Times: “It has been a bit of a nightmare.
“It was a real test of my naivety. I am a very trusting person and for me it has been a big lesson. I feel like I was duped.”

British Conservative Party leader David Cameron is also quite clear about his support of the NHS. He rebuked a party member “who went on US television to attack the NHS, dismissing his views as ‘eccentric.’ ” In an email to the members of his own party, Cameron he wrote:

One of the wonderful things about living in this country is that the moment you’re injured or fall ill – no matter who you are, where you are from, or how much money you’ve got – you know that the NHS will look after you.

Yesterday the Religion News Service summarized the Christian Right argument against health reform:

Although an estimated 45 million Americans lack health insurance, federation backers said they support the current system. “There may be problems,” said Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in suburban Maryland and chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, “but it is working.”

As opposed to a system more like the British system which, as British Conservative Party leader Cameron explained, covers everyone?

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Health, Politics, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on British ‘tough love’ for their NHS & U.S. conservatives

Archdiocese of Leon, Mexico, unable to pay medical bills

David Agren of Catholic News Service writes:

Saying that falling Sunday collections have left the Archdiocese of Leon, Mexico, unable to pay the medical bills of its infirm priests, Archbishop Jose Martin Rabago has called on Catholics to continue supporting the church financially in spite of the current economic crisis.

Archbishop Martin told reporters Aug. 23 that the archdiocese had an $18,000 deficit during the first half of 2009 as collections fell. He said financial projections show the deficit would grow to more than $85,000 by the end of the year.

Read the rest of the story here.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Health, Religion | , | Comments Off on Archdiocese of Leon, Mexico, unable to pay medical bills