Health reform law decision draws mixed reaction

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Friday, 29 June 2012 15:53
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In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28 decision upholding the health reform law, Bishop Leonard P. Blair noted the U.S. bishops will continue to advocate legislation to fix the lack of protection for religious freedom, prohibit federal funds from being used for elective abortions and include reasonable provisions for the treatment of immigrants.

“While Catholics can disagree about the best way to reform health care, it bears repeating that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been advocating health care reform for many years,” Bishop Blair noted in a statement following the decision.

Supporters of the administration's health care reform law demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington June 28. The nation's high court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as constitutional but placed some limit s on the federal government's ability to terminate states' Medicaid funding. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
Supporters of the administration's health care reform law demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington June 28. The nation's high court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as constitutional but placed some limit s on the federal government's ability to terminate states' Medicaid funding. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

“The U.S. Bishops opposed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as enacted into law, because it allowed the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions; it failed to provide conscience protection provisions; and it failed to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly,” he said. “Now, for lack of conscience protection provisions, the ACA is being implemented by the Health & Human Services Department in a way that forces people to act against their religious beliefs and conscience by forcing them to pay for sterilizations, contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs.

“The First Amendment of the Constitution has traditionally prompted government to give a wide accommodation to religious belief,” Bishop Blair added. “The bishops will continue to pursue the vindication of that right of religious freedom with all three branches of government: legislative, judicial and executive.”

Catholic Health Partners (CHP), the Cincinnati-based parent company of Mercy, issued a statement saying the ACA will not have a significant impact on its strategic direction.

“Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, CHP already was pursuing innovative strategies to improve access, quality and efficiency while lowering costs,” the statement said. “Such strategies have enabled CHP to hold costs virtually flat since 2005, reflecting our capacity to thrive in the new environment where payment models will reward value and quality over volume.

“With or without the ACA (or major provisions such as the individual mandate), more work needs to be done,” the statement continued. “We believe U.S. health care reimbursement models need to align incentives for hospitals, physicians and other providers. Patients can become more proactive in managing their own care. Quality outcomes, not volume, should form the basis for hospital and physician reimbursement.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) criticized the Supreme Court ruling in a statement in which he pledged to work to repeal the health care law.

“With the Court’s ruling, we now know this as a massive tax increase on the middle class,” Rep. Latta said. “American businesses, which have struggled during the recession, will not be able to create jobs that we so desperately need right now.”

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) issued a statement saying the court’s decision “is right for America. It affirms the right of every American to have access to health insurance that is affordable. It affirms that we are moving toward a system where no one can be left out.”

Central Catholic

 
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