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May 20, 1994     The Message
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May 20, 1994

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana m Perspective Seeing new:003atechism as a path toward agree Our church pew bounced and rattled. A family with small chil- dren had just arrived at the parish church for Sunday Mass. A moment later, the shine of moving metal caught my eye. It was a walker. An elderly woman slowly made her way up the side aisle. Among a small group of peo- ple, the range of agewas just about as complete as it could be. We were parents and teens, infants and el- derly, middle aged and young adults, children all of the same God. We are quite different in size and shape. We are tall 'and short. Thin and not-so-thin. Our age differences were obvious. So were our physical characteristics. Other differences were not so easy to see. Some of us in this church are natives of south- western Indiana. Some of us came from other parts IB PAUL R. INGANG EDITOR of the country -- or even from other countries. Some of us will leave this church this morning to participate in a special Liturgy of the Word for children. Some of us remember when we were children, and the Gospel was read first in Latin, then in English. Some of us have had many years of Catholic education. Some of us are new members of the Church. Some of us come from fam- ilies with deep religious traditions. Some of us learned a lot about our religion from the Baltimore Catechism. Some of us had instructions from the parish priest. Some of us have spent a year or more as a catechumen or a candidate seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. We say we are one, holy, catholic and apos- tolic -- but somehow we still manage to disagree among ourselves. At times, it seems, the only point of universal agreement among themselves Catholic is that we Catholic. Along with all of the obvious us is this truth, which must also be who disagree about the central cannot all be correct. So equally is it true are called as Christians to love one to love our enemies as ourselves. disagree with us. Even if they claim same Church with us. Even when The new Catechism of the C about to be published in English. Will into uniformity? No. Will it be echetical item we need? No. Will it questions? No. Will it give us defend our faith against the attacks ers. No. :: The Catechism will be most useful to see it as a path toward agreement, beat down disagreement. what Paul said to the C( inflates" but "love upbuilds." ----- Washington Lette00 Is health care rationing inevitable under Clinton reform By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Is health care rationing in- evitable under the Clinton plan and other proposals cur- rently before Congress? Perhaps, say representatives of the Catholic Health Associa- tion, but rationing has been going on for years and can be carried out in a fair way if cer- tain ethical criteria are kept in mind. Most definitely, says the Na- tional Right to Life Committee, which views the health ra- tioning aspects of the Clinton plan as just as abhorrent as its inclusion of abortion coverage. It's hard to tell, say other Catholic commentators who have been following the health care debate. As much as they;ve" studied the various proposals before Congress, the true effect of any plan will only be known when it's fully imple- mented. Health care rationing, as de- fined by the Catholic Health Association, is "the withhold- ing of potentially beneficial health care services because policies and practices establish limits on the resources avail- The MESS AGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Publisher .............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Editor ............................................ Paul Leingang Production Manager ............. , ............. Ph Booer Cccution .................................. Amy Housman Aoeng .................................... Pau4 Newd S{a wrer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address all communicatv:Pns to P.O, Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Pp, c_,e: $.50 Entered as 2rid class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publice- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to OffCe of Puka0on  I04 c,=,c Pr=s of Er able for health care." In its 1991 document, "With Justice for All? The Ethics of Health Care Rationing," the St. Louis-based organization said the "systemic attempts to deny people access to poten- tially beneficial services sug- gest a need for a set of ethical criteria by which current and proposed forms of health care rationing can be evaluated." Under those criteria, any ethical rationing must meet a demonstrable need, be oriented to the common good, be avail- able to all, apply to all, result from an open and participatbry process, give priority to disad- vantaged persons, be free of wrongful discrimination and be monitored in its social and eco- nomic effects. Writing in the April 1994 issue of Health Progress, Paul B. Hofmann says the new de- bate about health care ra- tioning "obscures the fact that health care is, in reality if not in policy, rationed now." But rationing decisions are being made by health care providers rather than by society at large, he says. "A key advantage of promot- ing formal public policy deci- sions about the provisions and limitations of health care ser- vices is that it shifts responsi- bility and accountability from providers to society," writes Hofmann, a visiting-scholar at Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics in Pale Alto, Calif., and a senior fellow at Stanford University Hospital in Stanford, Calif. The National Right to Life Committee has made health care rationing the second prong of its attack on the Clin- ton health plan, with abortion being the first. "If this Clinton rationing plan is enacted, it is hard to see how its institutionalization of involuntary euthanasia in the American health care sys- tem could ever be reversed," says Wanda Franz, NRLC president. "We must give our all to fight against this Clinton rationing plan, knowing the lives of the members of our own families may depend on it." The committee has taken out ads in several national publications outlining why the Clinton plan would cause ra- tioning. Among the reasons cited: Health alliances forced to provide a comprehensive bene- fits package for less money (in inflation-adjusted dollars) each year "will have to cut down more and more each year on the treatments it makes avail- able." Health plans will be al- lowed to deny treatment con- sidered "inappropriate" or out- side their "practice guidelines," a loophole likely to result in many denials based on "qual- it-of- life" decisions by admin- istrators. The Clinton plan's limits on specialists and on research and development will in- evitably lead to rationing and to a reduction in the high qual- ity of U.S. health care today. "Most frightening, however, is the fact that you will be pro- hibited by law from protecting your family against this kind of rationing," says one of the NRLC's ads. "The administra- tion proposal prohibits the sale of any insurance that 'dupli- cates' the categories in the comprehensive benefits pack- age. This means that you will not be allowed, under any cir- cumstances, to buy supplemen- tal insurance for treatment within these categories that is denied to you or your family by rationing." The U.S. bishops have been quiet about the specifics of the health rationing debate, saying only that any plan must "in- clude effective mechanisms to restrain rising health care coSts." Containing costs is crucial if we are to avoid the danger- ous pressures raises equity qt Roger M. les and H. Ricard a letter to year. Richard sociate Secretariat for: ties, says risk of hea exists in Americans Act can serve:i against u1 See Bishop's sc The following activities and events schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger' Letters to the editor are welcome. Letters should in- clude a daytime telephone number. The following let. ters have been edited for publication. Catechism is a gift To the editor:. What can be done regarding the apathy, the snobbery, and See LETTERS page 5