Catholic Health Association Head Backs Reform

One of the real oddities of Bart Stupak’s refusal to get back on board the health reform train is that virtually everyone who looks at the current language thinks it’s close to Stupak’s own language, and basically achieves what Stupak says is his goal — avoiding taxpayer subsidies of abortion. The people who agree with Stupak are overwhelmingly conservative reform opponents, who are casting about for things to object to. People who want to see health coverage expanded, including anti-abortion Catholics, generally don’t see things Stupak’s way.

As Carol Keehan, President and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, explains:

CHA has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women. The bill now being considered allows people buying insurance through an exchange to use federal dollars in the form of tax credits and their own dollars to buy a policy that covers their health care. If they choose a policy with abortion coverage, then they must write a separate personal check for the cost of that coverage.

There is a requirement that the insurance companies be audited annually to assure that the payment for abortion coverage fully covers the administrative and clinical costs, that the payment is held in a separate account from other premiums, and that there are no federal dollars used.


Now, obviously, a lot of people, including Bart Stupak, think abortion should be illegal and this bill doesn’t do that. But it does ensure that you can only get an abortion with private funds.

What’s more:

The insurance reforms will make the lives of millions more secure, and their coverage more affordable. […]

In addition, there is a wonderful provision in the bill that provides $250 million over 10 years to pay for counseling, education, job training and housing for vulnerable women who are pregnant or parenting. Another provision provides a substantial increase in the adoption tax credit and funding for adoption assistance programs.

Obviously both Stupak and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops are entitled to make up their own minds. But Keehan is not just a Catholic, but her organization — unlike the Biships — has actually expertise in health care administration and finance.