We are engaged in the most significant discussion regarding health-care delivery in the United States in fifty years—possibly in our entire national history—considering what is at stake. The outcome will affect the health and well being of all Americans not only medically, but politically and morally, for generations to come. The decisions made now will fundamentally shape how Americans interpret human and constitutional rights to life, religious and civic liberty, and freedom of conscience.
American physicians, hospitals, and health-care providers provide the best standard of care in the world. Yet health-care financing and delivery are characterized by high costs, and onerous, unjust, and ineffective laws that make it hard for millions of Americans to obtain health insurance coverage and afford the cost of their care.
True reform of health-care financing and delivery is certainly needed. Yet the bills that have been passed by committees in the House and Senate—combined with President Obama’s push for hasty action—could make the current, flawed system even worse.
The Catholic Medical Association supports meaningful health-care reform that is based on sound ethics and economics. The information and tools provided in this section of our website are intended to assist CMA members, as well as citizens and all people of good will, to educate themselves and to responsibly advocate for a system that will effectively serve human life and health. As a nonprofit corporation organized for religious, charitable, and educational purposes, CMA offers this information for public education purposes, and not for the purpose of advocating for the passage or defeat of any particular legislation.
Here is a summary of the CMA’s position on health-care reform efforts, distilled from statements published in the past and from an analysis of current reform efforts:
- While health-care financing and delivery systems in the United States suffer from significant flaws impacting cost and access which have accumulated over the years, the entire system is not broken. Reform legislation should address specific issues; not on replacing or overhauling the entire health-care system at one time.
- While attention is rightly paid to the socio-economic aspects of the crisis in health care and delivery, it is essential to acknowledge and respect the fundamental ethical principles at stake. Above all, it is necessary at this time to ensure that any national health-care reform legislation provides respect for human life (e.g., by not funding or mandating abortion as a “health-care benefit”) and respect for the conscience rights of health-care professionals (e.g., providing nothing less than the current protections in federal and state law—and preferably more).
- Health-care reform legislation must respect the integrity of the physician-patient relationship. This means that people should be free to choose physicians and health insurance coverage which accord with their values and needs. This also means that physicians must not be prevented—by the force of government regulations—from respecting their patients’ privacy or from offering the attention and treatments patients require based on the physician’s professional judgment.
- Ancillary (but significant) Issues. Any health care reform legislation must be carefully monitored to ensure that interest groups do not take the opportunity afforded by comprehensive legislation to insert provisions that harm the dignity of individuals or the family or that inappropriately serve the agenda of a particular group or ideology.