Commentaries - "the point"

Share This    

The Point Washington Update- June 2012

In this edition:

Article #1
Washington, DC--June 28, 2012--The nation's largest faith-based association of physicians, the Christian Medical Association (CMA), today lamented the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, saying the decision threatens health care choice and "sounds an alarm across the country to people with faith-based and pro-life convictions."

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens observed, "The high court unfortunately could not muster enough justices willing to uphold the Constitutional principles of limited government and separation of powers that have guided our nation since its founding. This ruling sounds an alarm across the country to people with faith-based and pro-life convictions, to poor patients who depend on physicians with these values and to all patients who value choosing their own health care.

"Who will stop U.S. Health and Human Services political appointees from forcing employers and individuals with faith-based convictions to subsidize abortion or life-ending contraceptives and imposing huge 'faith fines' on those of us who resist? What will stop this administration, with its radical pro-abortion agenda, from further undermining conscience rights and pursuing policies that effectively force out of medicine physicians with life-honoring convictions? Who will keep government panels from effectively denying physicians and patients the choice about what are the most effective and appropriate medicines, surgeries and treatments?

"While court battles will continue over other aspects of the Affordable Care Act not addressed in today's decision, we have learned that we cannot simply rest in the hope that our courts will uphold Constitutional principles. We call on Congress to turn back this law's assault on our freedoms and restore American values and Constitutional principles in health care. Repeal this overreaching law and enact bipartisan, targeted health care reforms.

"Congress should demonstrate a new respect for the proper limits of government power, listen to the people and pursue a careful, measured approach of targeted reforms, including:

  • protecting patient access to care by enacting strong conscience protections;
  • providing a safety net for the poor and patients with preexisting conditions;
  • containing the cost of health insurance by opening up competition across state lines;
  • reducing cost and keeping physicians in medicine by reforming malpractice lawsuits and reducing bureaucracy; and by
  • rooting out and prosecuting Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

CMA Executive VP Dr. Gene Rudd noted, "Compassionate and common-sense reforms like these offer hope for a health care system that cares for the most vulnerable among us while containing costs to make health insurance affordable for an ever-increasing number of Americans. It will also ensure that conscientious physicians who still hold to high ethical standards such as the Hippocratic Oath will be able to remain in medicine and care for this increasing number of patients."

Article #2
Excerpted from "54 percent Still Favor Repeal of Obama’s Health Care Law," Rasmussen Reports, June 25, 2012--With the U.S. Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s national health care law, most voters still would like to see the law repealed. It’s indicative of how steady support for repeal has been that this week’s finding is identical to how voters felt in the first survey after the law’s passage by Congress in March 2010.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 54 percent of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care bill, while 39 percent are at least somewhat opposed. This includes 43 percent who Strongly Favor repeal and 28 percent who are Strongly Opposed to it. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 23-24, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

Commentary #2
CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody "This poll suggests a simple lesson: One political party cannot implement its ideas exclusively and unilaterally in a country as diverse and deeply divided as the United States.

This week during a meeting at the U.S. Capitol, I asked a leading Republican physician Member of Congress what the GOP might do on health care reform after the Supreme Court ruled on the health care law. The physician's response included the following:

  • Repeal Obamacare.
  • Listen to and involve Democrats.
  • Take a measured, step-by-step approach.
  • Focus on achieving greater affordability and wider coverage.
  • Provide more consumer choice, less bureaucracy and more decision-making by physicians.
  • Ensure conscience protections for health care professionals.
  • Enact Texas-style tort reform to curb out-of-control malpractice litigation.
  • Reform Medicare and keep it from collapsing with means testing, ensuring care for the poor while giving greater responsibility to individuals who have the means to pay.
  • Emphasize health savings accounts, reasonable deductibles and co-payments as a way to bend the cost curve.
  • Return to a market-driven approach to health care and provide transparency of pricing on medical procedures so consumers can make informed decisions on their care.
  • Provide for patients with pre-existing conditions.
  • Enact tax reform, including lower tax rates, focused deductions and tax parity so that individuals can claim the same tax benefits for health care costs as do businesses.
  • Increase competition by enabling mobility of health insurance plans--allowing patients to transport their plans with them regardless of changes in employers.

CMDA's internal polling suggests that most of our members favor an approach to health care that allocates decision-making power not to the federal government but to physicians and patients, with individual care decisions best made in the examination room rather than in the back rooms of Congress or in the maze of Washington bureaucracy. After the public backlash and lessons of the past two years, the prospects for Congress enacting such an approach appear more likely than ever.

Article #3
(Excerpted from CMA's official comment to HHS concerning its mandate under Obamacare that even conscientiously objecting individuals and organizations must subsidize free sterilization surgeries and potentially embryo-destroying contraceptives nationwide.)

CMA views the mandate as violating constitutional and statutory protections of religious freedom and conscience. The mandate also undermines the American values of free enterprise and, more importantly, respect for human life. Specifically, CMA objects to the rule because:

  1. The mandate is unlawful and unprecedented in that it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), by imposing a substantial burden on religious beliefs without employing the required least restrictive means, and by failing to demonstrate a compelling governmental interest (since as even the President has attested, contraceptives are readily available to virtually all women).
  2. The mandate is pragmatically unwise, in that it leaves conscientious objectors with no positive options whatsoever. We must either violate deeply held moral convictions, discontinue health care coverage for employees, or pay huge fines that will drain funds otherwise used to help the poor, the sick and other ministry beneficiaries.
  3. The administration offers no accommodation options whatsoever to protect secular conscientious objectors. Such discrimination against non-religious objectors--including employers, employees and insurers--disregards historical conscience protections and standards of medical ethics. Millions of individuals and organizations through the ages have based their moral convictions on secular ethical standards such as the millennia-old Hippocratic oath or the more recent Nuremburg code.
  4. The administration is instituting a decidedly un-American policy that (a) classifies pregnancy as a disease requiring mandated treatment and (b) advocates the prevention of child-bearing as a health care cost savings. Unlike communist leaders in countries like China, Americans historically have not viewed pregnancy as a disease or children as an unwelcome product posing a cost burden.
  5. No payment scheme developed to comply with the mandate can avoid moral compromise for faith-based objectors. If the insurer increases the premiums of objecting employers to recoup the costs of the mandate, faith-based employers clearly are forced to subsidize, through increased premiums, the items considered morally reprehensible. Increasing the premiums only of the non-objecting employers would unfairly force them to pay for the religious objections of objectors, and the government would essentially be compelling the subsidy of a religious group. Either option violates the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."
  6. The mandate tramples Fifth Amendment protections ("nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation") by imposing costs on businesses while depriving them of the liberty to profit. The alternative to raising premiums that the administration advocates in the ANPRM--forcing insurers to cover the cost without raising premiums--is indefensible and an assault on the free enterprise system.
  7. While administration officials have talked at length about compromise and promising accommodation of religious liberty, nothing has actually changed in the final rule.

The administration retains only two realistic options regarding this unlawful, unprecedented, unwise and un-American policy: rescind the policy or face defeat in the courts. The CMA encourages rescission of this policy in its entirety.