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July 8, 1994     The Message
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8, 1994 The Message- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana "5 -- Bishop's Forum m Calling for comprehensive health care reform Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger, ' with Archbishop Daniel M. and the other bishops of sent the following letter to Coats and Richard of Indiana. The Catholic bishops of the States are among the na- strongest and most persis- s for comprehensive We have called health care for all since ]19, testified in support of na- health insurance since the , and repeatedly called for reform in the 1990s. The Catholic sponsors the largest private nonprofit system in the nation, purchases health for hundreds of thousands of employees, health and human services for those between the cracks of our present system rved and uninsured, the undocu- the working poor. Here in Indiana, we know firsthand the prob- and urgency surrounding health care reform. numerous Catholic health care PrOViders in Indiana. We are concerned. )ur agenda is neither partisan nor ideologi- ma" concerns are how health care re- the poor and vulnerable, how it all of us. For this reason, we are actively comprehensive health care reform the lives and provides for the dignity write not as advocates of any particular to support essential priorities in hopes p shape your choices in the weeks UNIVERSAL COVERAGE In our tradition, health care is a fundamental of human life and dignity. In a nation more than 35 million people lack coverage, coverage is a moral imperative. We be- health care cannot depend on r employment status or income, where they live, or where they came from. Real reform offer the promise of universal access with- Providing effective means to ensure coverage ByBISHOP GERALD A GETTELFINGER (e.g., through employer-provided coverage, government assistance, private action or a combination of these). We will measure reform pro- posals by how completely and effec- tively they provide true universal coverage. Universal coverage can- not be significantly postponed, be- cause coverage delayed may well be coverage denied. Promises of uni- versal access are no substitute for the practical means and fiscal in- vestment to ensure coverage. In pursuit of universal coverage, the needs of the poor and vulnerable, including those currently unserved and uninsured, undocumented and migrant work- ers, the disabled and low income workers, deserve special attention. True universal coverage should be a centerpiece of reform. RESPECT FOR LIFE The goal of health care reform must be to pro- tect human life, not to threaten or destroy it. That is why the specter of government-mandated abor- tion coverage destroys the very concept of good health care reform. That most Americans oppose such a mandate has been amply demonstrated -- most recently in a University of Cincinnati poll showing 69 percent of Americans (including 68 percent of women and 64 percent of Democrats) opposed to the inclusion of abortion among their health benefits. Yet the Administration's plan and many alternative bills would force every American to pay for the destruc- tion of unborn children, a practice which millions of us abhor. Forcing Americans to purchase abor- tion coverage for themselves and their families and to subsidize abortions for others is a fundamental violation of conscience and the common good. Mandated abortion would also jeopardize the future of Catholic health care, our nation's largest nonprofit health care provider, because provider networks would have to ensure access to all stan- dard benefits. While a conscience clause might pro- tect Catholic individuals and institutions from hav- ing to perform abortions, they would still be forced to provide abortion referrals and facilitate access to abortions in violation of their conscientious beliefs. Because they could not in conscience coordinate ac- cess to abortion, Catholic facilities effectively could be barred from leading provider networks. Many may not survive such a situation. Mandating abortion benefits would for the first time force our 19,000 parishes, 900 health fa- cilities, and thousands of schools and other institu- tions, which employ hundreds of thousands of peo- ple, to subsidize abortion. It is both morally wrong and politically unwise to burden needed health care reform with an issue which so profoundly di- vides the nation. There is a way to solve these serious prob- lems: Congress should add abortion services to the list of procedures it excludes from any mandated benefits package. Tragically, in our view, this would not hinder access to abortion or anyone's ability to purchase supplemental coverage for abortion. It would, however, remove government coercion to participate in the destruction of unborn life. PROTECTING THE COMMON GOOD Any acceptable plan must also include effec- tive mechanisms to restrain rising health care costs. Without cost containment, we cannot make health care affordable and direct scarce national resources to other pressing national problems. Containing costs is crucial if we are to avoid the questions of moral principle and equity. The poor, vulnerable, and uninsured persons must not be de- nied needed care because the health system re- fuses to eliminate waste, duplication, and bureau- cratic costs. The national debate on health care reform should not be decided by partisan politics and spe- cial interest power. This debate is fundamentally about families without insurance, sick people with- out coverage, communities without health care. It is about children who don't see the day of their birth because of their mothers' lack of prenatal care or because of the tragic violence of abortion. We hope Congress will look beyond special in- terest claims and partisan differences and unite our nation in a commitment to meeting the health care needs of all our people. Please work for health care reform with real universal coverage and with- out abortion mandates. , at Mariah Hill A. Gettelflnger confirmed students at Mary Help of Christians Church in this past April. The confirmation class included, front row, left, Jodi Oxley, Jennifer Rasche, Jayme Gogel, Kimberly Rasche, Karl Gogel, Michelle Klein, Ryan Dllger, Nathan Dilger, Brian Varner, Kelly Gessner, Hank Daun- Gogel, Tammy Boeglln, Nicholas Keller, Bart Jochim, server, second row, Lehr, catechist, Miohelle Kunkler, Lindsey Gogel, Renae Jochim, Connie Cynthia Pund, Kristy Wessel, Shaun Begle, David Yarner, Nathan Philipps, Mike Boeglin, Peter Jochim, Symon Jochim, server, third row, left, Joseph Hildenbrand, Aaron Gogel, Scott Gogel, Jeff Mohr, Kristopher Burress, Todd Hildenbrand, Kyle Kerstiens, Shefla Kunkler, Bishop Gettelflnger, fourth Father Greg Spencer, pastor, Brian Kunkler, server, Alex Pund, server, Brent Begle, Brandon Dilger, Kenneth Fetter, Adam Gogel, server, and Erik Server. HAUBSTADT MILLER & MILLER ( ELECTRIC Licensed Bonded Insured "A family name you Ius, commerdaJ and Redden can trust" P.O. Box 405 TONY NAZARIO Haubstadt, IN 47639 424-9274 812-768-5207 1-800-766-2787 I Applications are being accepted for the available position of Diocesan Treasurer Diocese of Evansville Responsibility: to administer the goods of the diocese under the au- thority of the bishop. Requirements: to be Catholic, and to have experience and skills in the areas of financial management, busi- ness administration, and accounting. Send resume to the attention of Msgr. Kenneth R. Knapp, Diocese of Evansville, P.O. Box 4169 Evansville, IN 47724-0169.