Pelosi Dismisses Catholic Bishops as ‘Lobbyists’

By Edwin Mora  … December 1, 2011   Subscribe to Edwin Mora’s posts

Pelosi Dismisses Catholic Bishops as ‘Lobbyists’—For Opposing Obamacare Reg

Forcing Catholics to Act Against Faith

(CNSNews.com) — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) on Thursday described America’s Roman Catholic bishops as “lobbyists in Washington, D.C.” in their efforts to persuade the Department of Health and Human Service to rescind a proposed regulation under the new health-care law that would force Catholics to act against the teachings of their church by compelling them to purchase health-care plans that cover sterilizations and all-FDA approved contraceptives, including abortifacients.

The proposed regulation, scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1, 2012, would require every health-insurance plan in the United States to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives (which include abortifacients) without charging any co-pay. The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong and that Catholics cannot be involved in them.

CNSNews.com asked Pelosi at her press briefing on Thursday: “In August, HHS issued a proposed regulation under the new health care law that would require that all health care plans cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives. The U.S. Catholic bishops have called the regulation an unprecedented attack on religious freedom and have asked HHS to drop it. Do you agree with the bishops?” 

Noting that she is “a devout Catholic,” Pelosi said she sometimes disagrees with the Catholic bishops when they act as “lobbyists.”

“I don’t know if I agree with your characterization of what the HHS put forth,” Pelosi said, “but as a mother of five children in six years, as a devout Catholic, I have great respect for our bishops when they are my pastor. As lobbyists in Washington D.C., we have some areas of disagreement.

“Again,” she continued, “I don’t understand the proposal as you described it. So, I won’t be able to answer it. But I do think that it’s important for women to have the opportunity to have full reproductive health options available to them and their insurance wherever they receive it. I support the waiver that is there for the churches now. I don’t know the exception as expanded by what you’re saying there.”

The regulation HHS has proposed includes a “religious exemption” that does not apply to individuals who, under Obamacare, will be mandated to buy health insurance. To qualify as a “religious employer” that will get an exemption an organization must meet all of four criteria: their purpose must be the “inculcation of religious values,” they must “primarily employ persons who share the same religious tenets,” they must “primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets,” and they must be organized under the specific section of the Internal Revenue Code used by churches per se.

As drawn, the exemption from the sterilization-and-contraception mandate would not apply to Catholic individuals, Catholic hospitals, Catholic universities and Catholic charitable organizations. Thus, Catholic individuals would be forced to purchase health insurance plans that pay for sterilizations, contraception and abortifacients, in violation of the the teachings of their church, and Catholic hospitals, universities and charitable organizations would be forced to choose between dropping health insurance for their employees or paying for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients in violation of the teachings of the church. 

In September, the Catholics bishops issued a rare “call to action” that was distributed in church bulletins around the country. The bulletin insert stated that the regulation “poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom” [italics in original] and called on Catholics to contact HHS and urge that the proposed regulation be rescinded.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also sent its own comments to HHS in which the bishops said: “Indeed, such nationwide government coercion of religious people and groups to sell, broker, or purchase ‘services’ to which they have a moral or religious objection represents an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.”

The bishops’ comments noted that ulipristal (or “Ella”), which is an abortifacient, is one of the FDA-approved contraceptives that every health care plan would be required to provide under the proposed regulation.

In addressing the very narrowly drawn religious exemption in the proposed regulation, the bishops told HHS that Jesus Christ would not even qualify for it.

“Under such inexplicably narrow criteria—criteria bearing no reasonable relation to any legitimate (let alone compelling) government purpose—even the ministry of Jesus and the early Christian Church would not qualify as ‘religious,’ because they did not confine their ministry to their co-religionists or engage only in a preaching ministry,” the bishops said. “In effect, the exemption is directly at odds with the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus teaches concern and assistance for those in need, regardless of faith differences.”

At the White House press briefing on Tuesday, Jake Tapper of ABC News asked White House Spokesman Jay Carney what was going to govern the president’s “decision-making” on whether to impose this proposed regulation on Catholics.

“I’ve heard from a lot of Democrats in the last few weeks who are concerned about President Obama possibly granting an exemption to Catholic churches, hospitals and universities from the requirement that all insurance plans cover contraception,” said Tapper. “I’m wondering if you could shed any light on this decision. I know the President has not yet made a decision, but I think these Democrats, a lot of them in the abortion rights community, are concerned that this is even being discussed.  Could you explain why the President is considering an exemption, and what’s going into his decision-making?”

Carney said the president was undecided on what he was going to do.

“Well, part of the process, Jake, as you know, was seeking and receiving public input before the guidelines that were announced by the Secretary of Health and Human Services would go into effect,” said Carney. “That process did result in public input, as well as resulted in numerous comments from various folks who have concerns about this issue. 

“The President has–this decision has not yet been made,” said Carney. “You can be sure that we want to strike the right balance between expanding coverage of preventive services and respecting religious beliefs.  And that’s the balance that will be sought as this decision is made.”

 

Senate GOP Leaders To Holder: Your Kagan Testimony ‘Belied By The Facts’

By Terence P. Jeffrey November 19, 2011

(CNSNews.com) – Senate Republican leaders sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday expressing their view that testimony he gave in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on the Justice Department’s handling of then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s involvement in litigation arising from the administration’s health care legislation was “belied by the facts.”

The senators also urged Holder to comply with requests that have been submitted to the Justice Department by Congress seeking information about Kagan’s involvement in the matter and expressed their view that Kagan’s activities as solicitor general may have triggered two different provisions of a federal law that governs when a Supreme Court justice must recuse from a case.  Read More >>>

Obama administration to announce effort to expand health-care workforce

By , Updated: Sunday, November 13, 11:01 PM

The Obama administration will announce Monday as much as $1 billion in funding to hire, train and deploy health-care workers, part of the White House’s broader “We Can’t Wait” agenda to bolster the economy after President Obama’s jobs bill stalled in Congress.Grants can go to doctors, community groups, local government and other organizations that work with patients in federal health-care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The funds are for experimenting with different ways to expand the health-care workforce while reducing the cost of delivering care. There will be an emphasis on speed, with new programs expected to be running within six months of funding.

“This will open the inbox for many innovators and organizations that have an idea to bring to the table,” Don Berwick, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in an interview. “We’re seeking innovators, organizations and leaders that have an idea to bring into further testing.”

Health-care employment is growing steadily, with more than 300,000 jobs added in the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It has been one bright spot in the economy as unemployment has hovered around 9 percent. The bureau projects total employment in health care to grow by 3.2 million jobs by 2018, more than in any other sector.

At the same time, the country faces a doctor shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that the United States will have 63,000 fewer doctors than it needs by 2015. That shortage will grow to 130,600 doctors by 2025.

The need for a larger health-care workforce will probably become particularly acute in 2014, when the health-care overhaul is expected to expand health insurance coverage to millions of Americans. By 2019, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects, 32 million more Americans will have gained health insurance coverage.

That has left federal agencies looking to alternative ways to deliver care, ones that may rely more on community-based care and less on trips to the doctor’s office. Under this new program, organizations may be able to explore how community workers, volunteers, pharmacy techs or clinic managers could play a larger role in the health-care workforce.

“We have a wealth of good ideas in health care, but the big challenge is spread,” Berwick said. “This will be seed money to get innovation to go further. This is venture capital to grow good ideas to scale.”

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, created as part of the Affordable Care Act, will administer and oversee the program, called the Health Care Innovation Challenge.

“In many ways, the health-care system in the future will be different from the health-care system today,” said Richard Gilfillan, acting director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. “We’re saying, let’s find the best people to do these jobs and broaden the workforce.”

 

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