Obama Thanks CHA for Backing Health Care Reform

President Barack Obama thanked members of the Catholic Health Association June 14 for their "help and courage in passing health care reform." In a videotaped message to the organization's annual convention in Denver, Obama called passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March "a major victory for our nation, for human dignity and for the most vulnerable among us."

"Your work, your passion, your commitment helped make the difference," he said.

Advertisement

Obama also thanked Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and chief executive, for "the extraordinary leadership she's provided in advancing our national discussion." In the closing days of the health reform debate, Sister Carol and other CHA leaders urged passage of the legislation, saying they were convinced it would not expand federal funding of abortion. Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the final version of the legislation, citing concerns about its provisions on abortion and conscience protections. Although she was not present for the ceremony at which Obama signed the health reform legislation, Sister Carol, right, received one of 20 ceremonial pens used in the signing.

Obama, who signed an executive order affirming that the health reform law would not allow federal funds to be spent on most abortions, said CHA members had achieved their health reform goals "in a way that protects your long-standing beliefs and the beliefs of so many others across the country."

The president's remarks came at the end of a 10-minute video presentation in which CHA members and others discussed the history of Catholic health care, its role in the health reform debate and provisions of the final bill. Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., called the final product "pro-life legislation" and said, "If CHA had not been involved, it is highly likely we would not have been able to pass this bill."

Casey said government officials would "continue to call on CHA for help as we implement" the new health reform law.

Father J. Bryan Hehir, in a keynote talk to the convention June 13, also praised Sister Carol for her role in the health reform debate. "It would be a gross missed opportunity in this assembly not to acknowledge the way Sister Carol's leadership embodies the elements of hands-on care of the poor, ministry to all and intelligent, courageous leadership of CHA," he said, to applause from the convention participants.

Father Hehir is secretary for health and social services in the Archdiocese of Boston and a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. During his keynote address, he called for U.S. Catholics to move on from the sometimes contentious debate during the build-up to the signing of health care reform. Differences within the Catholic community during the health reform debate were not about the objectives to be accomplished but about the "degree of assurance" provided by the bill on those objectives, Father Hehir said.

"It is time to face the future, not replay the past continually," said Father Hehir. "As the legislation advanced toward its final outcome, the Catholic debate surfaced, not about the objectives but about methods of achieving them and judgments about the degree of certitude needed in the bill to promote these various objectives," he said.

With passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March, "the four objectives are partially met," Father Hehir said. "It will take continuing work on each [objective] to meet the potential of a just health care system protective of human life and human dignity from life's inception along the spectrum to its natural end."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

 10.17.2018 Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
“We take people where they are, walking with them, moving forward,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 20, 2018
Catherine Pakaluk, who currently teaches at the Catholic University of America and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, describes her tweet to Mr. Macron as “spirited” and “playful.”
Emma Winters October 19, 2018
A new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security could make it much more difficult for legal immigrants to get green cards in the United States. But even before its implementation, the proposal has led immigrants to avoid receiving public benefits.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 19, 2018
 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then nuncio to the United States, and then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, are seen in a combination photo during the beatification Mass of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., Oct. 4, 2014. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
In this third letter Archbishop Viganò no longer insists, as he did so forcefully in his first letter, that the restrictions that he claimed Benedict XVI had imposed on Archbishop McCarrick—one he alleges that Pope Francis later lifted—can be understood as “sanctions.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 19, 2018