Most Americans agree that we need healthcare reform. Adequate health care costs too much, and too many people-especially the working poor and unemployed-don't have access to the care they need.
But in the frantic rush to pass health-care reform before the August recess, Congress has cooked up a health-care reform package that should give every Christian grave concern. And I'll tell you why.
First, Congress has rejected every amendment to protect the consciences of medical providers. Doctors and nurses who refuse to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive reproduction procedures, or even so-nicely phrased "end of life services" could be forced to choose between their consciences and their careers. This is unjust and un-American. Freedom of religion, last time I checked, is still enshrined in the Constitution.
Even more ominously, forcing religious institutions-like Catholic hospitals-to perform such procedures could lead to the closing or sale of nearly 13 percent of our nation's hospitals. The effect on the health care system-and on the poor-would be devastating. As Fred Caesar of the Catholic Health Association points out, "Catholic health care providers are [often] the 'safety net' to thousands of patients in the communities they serve who cannot afford health care coverage."
Second, we have every reason to believe that the various reform plans being debated could lead to taxpayer-funded abortions. House committees have already voted down amendments specifically prohibiting abortion funding. And Congress is ready to give the secretary of Health and Human Services and other governmental bodies the authority to mandate abortion coverage.
Third, as I've said before on BreakPoint, we have to resist any so-called reforms that would lead ultimately to a government-run health care system. I can argue that, as a matter of promoting justice, ensuring access to quality health care is a proper, biblical role for government. Actually running a health care system, determining who gets what care when and for how much, is not.
Does the term "Health Choices Commissioner" send chills down your spine? One House bill would, according to the National Review, "hand over vast powers" to such a commissioner, who would be in charge of "the new bureaucracy charged with regulating basically all health insurance in America."
Frankly, the only medical choices I'm interested in are the ones I make in consultation with my doctor and my family. Not a government commissioner who, with tight budgets, could be called "Dr. Death."
Then there's fiscal responsibility. The Congressional Budget Office says the health care plans now being considered in Congress would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Yet more debt being heaped on future generations.
So as your members of Congress and your Senators return home for their summer break, find out where they stand on these important issues. Attend a town hall meeting, write a letter, make a phone call to their local office. Be polite, but be firm.
We want reform. But anything that violates freedom of conscience, erodes the dignity of human life, or leads to a government takeover of health care cannot be called reform.