Health Care

With the upcoming vote in Congress, health care is at the forefront in the news again.  It is also a “hot topic” within Catholic Conversations ranging from the Facebook page of the NYS Catholic Conference to the United States Bishops’ website at and I am sure in many other places.

The current bill to be voted on in the House of Representatives in the new few days is H.R. 3590, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” 

The Catholic Church is in favor of universal health care for all.  Health care is a basic right.  Our “Declaration of Independence” speaks of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  To have a life with happiness requires good health care.  Last year, I wrote on my website about health care.  As the health care debate reaches a new peak, I invite you to read what I wrote.

The problem with the health care legislation as proposed is the federal funding for abortions.  The proposed bill does not explicitly address the question.  Some say it falls under the Hyde Amendment rules while others disagree (check out the USCCB’s understanding of the this).  To those who say the H.R. 3590 doesn’t need an explicit reference to prohibit federal funding of abortion because it is covered under the Hyde Amendment, I say if you believe it would not allow such funding then what is the problem of including a paragraph that explicitly says so? 

Health Care is an important issue but so is the right to life as it pertains to abortion.  Please take the time to read some of the resources I have provided and stand up for the needs of the poor and vulnerable.


Fr. Jeff


  1. I’m not sure that health insurance is a basic right. If we’re basing this on the pursuit of happiness, then having money is a basic right as well, as would be a big house and a swimming pool. In the present system, nobody is denied necessary care. For example, if you get shot and have to be taken to the emergency room, they won’t say you’re not welcome because you lack insurance. They will take care of you. The Government presently offers Medicare/aid to assist those who are poor with other health needs. These programs aren’t particularly successful right now, so I’m not convinced that this new program will be either. Money goes into these programs, and doesn’t come out the way it should.

    Another problem with universal health care is that only the wealthy will be footing the bill. They are taxed for everything as it is these days. It’s not like the costs will be uniformally distributed. This is a steal from the rich, give to the poor program. It’s easy for many of us to advocate for universal health care, but that’s because many of us won’t be paying the financial costs.

  2. When I spoke of health care as a basic right with reference to the pursuit of happiness, I did not mean “happiness” in a pleasure sense. I am thinking of a case like when someone is chronically ill, not able to work or enjoy life in any basic way. The same is true for food and drink. We can eat too much but there is no right to “overeat” but there is a right to enough food and drink to survive in basic comfort. Big houses and swimming pools are pleasures that are not necessary for a decent life and home.

    Yes, emergency care cannot be denied. But what about someone with cancer? Maybe they are eligible for Medicaid but unless they already have it, the approval time and procedures may take too long as their cancer progresses.

    I agree Medicare and Medicaid don’t always work the way we would like. Government programs can get caught up in red tape. Somebody has to do something. The funding of Universal Health Care is also a problem. We cannot just keep taxing people at random but there are those with more than enough money for their own needs. I have my own questions about the proposed health care legislation. There are actually two issues at work here; universal health care coverage and health care reform to fix what is wrong with our health care system.

    What I am trying to address here is the principles that must be considered in the health care debate. I speak from my faith, not for politics.


    Fr. Jeff

  3. Good point on Medicaid.

    “We cannot just keep taxing people at random but there are those with more than enough money for their own needs.”

    Isn’t it up to these people themselves to decide what to do with their money? Maybe they’ll donate it for good causes, like Bill Gates and other philanthropic CEOs, or maybe not. By taking money from them, we’re playing Robin Hood. We’re not allowing these people to freely donate their wealth out of their own volition.

  4. Honestly, I struggle to think of a good answer to your comment. In a perfect world, everyone would help each other without government involvement. In a perfect world there would be no greed. There would also not be such a disparity of wealth. The people we are to be most concerned with helping are those who work, seek work (or are disabled and unable to work) and either cannot find enough work or a job that pays an adequate wage. If a person works hard and doesn’t make enough money because the wage is too low, don’t they deserve our assistance?


    Fr. Jeff

  5. I would agree that those hard workers who don’t make ends meet deserve help. But how do we go about doing that? I think we need to organize voluntary assistance for those truly in need. Some body could be formed, with or without government help, that could collect and distribute aid to those who can prove they can not afford health care. I have a difficult time supporting anything that wishes to forcefully take money from people against their will. Sure, it’s going for the good of a decent number of people, but it’s not my decision what these rich people should do with their wealth. All we can really do without stealing from the wealthy is to give our own money out of our own desire to help others.

    We also need to be very careful that assistance goes to those who really need it. I drive down Lyell Avenue in the city daily, and I see countless people who appear very physically capable (many obviously lift weights quite often!) who are perpetually not working. Yet these people have some very nice clothes and jewelry that I couldn’t even think of buying on my budget. I fear another government program would continue to aid those who choose not to work for their daily bread. An organization largely independent from the government, I think, might have a better chance of seeing that money goes to those truly in need of health care aid.

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