A guest columnist today in the "On Faith" blog (WashPost and Newsweek's) is Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM, the director of media relations for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. She's tackling the complicated issue of the reconciliation of the House and Senate bills on health care. Her lede:
Catholic bishops have urged the government to reform our ailing health care system for decades. To do this, the House and Senate have now passed bills with this aim, bills that must be reconciled into one final bill. But the present state of affairs is enough to make you sick. The gamesmanship in Congress relates more to politics than health and has created serious problems. Despite the bishops' desire for health care reform, the proposed bills could turn the bishops from allies into opponents. So far, health care reform it is not.
In addition to concerns about abortion funding, she expresses several other concerns, including:
Problem # 4. Risk to overall health. The Senate bill does not allow undocumented persons to buy insurance with their own money. This position not only smacks of unfairness - if people want to buy insurance, why not let them? - it is bad economics. The more people in the insurance pool the better. The position also threatens the overall public health. Right now, many undocumented persons have to rely on the emergency room for basic medical care - the most expensive ordinary care there is - to deal with matters as simple and contagious as strep throat and tuberculosis. If as many as possible had access to decent health care, including care that prevents serious disease or treats it early, keeping the spread of disease in check would have a chance of becoming the rule.