So I have to admit I’m pretty confused about something one of the leaders of the Church recently said. It seems to be the thing to do lately, so I might as well hop on the bandwagon. I’m not mad about something Pope Francis said, though. I know he’s been in the press a lot lately with all of his comments and interviews, but I’m not ticked off about him. I’m rather astounded and exasperated at the recent comments Cardinal Timothy Dolan made about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, in an interview with Meet the Press. You can see the article and listen to his comments here. Among other things he said, “We’ve been asking for reform in healthcare for a long time. So we were kind of an early supporter in this. Where we started bristling and saying, ‘Uh-oh, first of all this isn’t comprehensive, because it’s excluding the undocumented immigrant and it’s excluding the unborn baby,’ so we began to bristle at that.”
I honestly don’t know where to start. Obviously the issue of health care has been front and center since the passing of Obamacare and the recent disastrous rollout of the official website, healthcare.gov. The Church is one of the largest health care providers in the United States. (2009 stats) The Church is definitely in a position where it has a say in the health care debate that has swept this country for years. What I don’t understand is why the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) would even hint at the idea that they support something that is going to limit healthcare choices, increase the cost of healthcare, increase the doctor shortage, create a board with broad powers, and increase the national debt to unsustainable levels. Is that something that the Church is supposed to support or am I missing something here?
It’s been said that the healthcare industry is one sixth of the entire economy of the United States. With the painful implementation of Obamacare, the government has now radically altered and stuck it’s grubby hands into the middle of a huge portion of the US economy. I don’t think that you could find many people in the US who thought the pre-Obamacare healthcare system was perfect and in no need of reform, but is the only answer to have the government come into the middle of everything and impose its own multi-leveled bureaucratic nightmare on all of us? The bigger the government gets, the less respect and dignity is given to the individual, and this socialistic outreach from the Obama administration is something the American Cardinals should be speaking against adamantly.
The Catholic principle of subsidiarity is a teaching found in the Catechism, number 1894. It states “In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.” What it is basically saying is that society should be ordered in a way in which responsibility is kept as close to the local individual as possible. We don’t need big government stepping in and running our lives when we can do it ourselves with greater efficiency. We don’t need the government telling us what healthcare we need, how we access it, and much less a panel that decides who gets health care and who doesn’t.
Obamacare is a monstrosity that should offend the senses of every Catholic in America. It blatantly violates the principal of subsidiarity and gives unprecedented power over many to a few politicians and the non-elected people they appoint. I’m shocked that Cardinal Dolan would indicate that the Church would’ve been just fine and dandy with Obamacare if it weren’t for that pesky abortion and contraception thing. The USCCB shouldn’t be a cheerleader for anybody. They are supposed to be our shepherds leading us to Christ. If there is another version of healthcare reform Cardinal Dolan supports, he didn’t make it clear in that interview.
He also mentioned that the reason the bishops didn’t support Obamacare is because it neglects the illegal immigrants. I have to admit that I struggle with this one. On one hand you have a large group of people who have fled the kind of poverty that most of us in the US are unfamiliar with, and on the other hand, this same group of people has broken our laws and has come in and jumped on every welfare option that we offer. They have been bought off by the Democrat party. It’s kind of sad that living off our government dole is a huge improvement to the lives they were leading in their home countries. As unsustainable as Obamacare is, I don’t see how we could enroll every illegal immigrant in this country and not bury ourselves even more in unsustainable debt. Is that really a service to them? Here, come into our country where we’ll give you really crappy health care. Sure, you’ll be covered, but the care won’t be that great. Is that charitable? Is that what the USCCB should support?
At the end of the day you can say I’m just baffled. From what I heard on that interview, Cardinal Dolan and his bishop buddies would have been just fine with Obamacare if it hadn’t been for abortion, contraception, and the exclusion of illegal immigrants. If he has a different version of healthcare reform that doesn’t involved a big government takeover reminiscent of some two-bit socialist dictator, then he failed to make the point. I really hope the bishops can get themselves together and try to understand that little teaching on subsidiarity. We are way too far down the infamous slippery slope for those funny hat wearing guys to be sending a ton of mixed messages.