Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

Living Your Faith as Citizens and Leaders in Politics, Culture, Society and Business

Here are some important points to consider when reviewing the health care reform debate

During the August recess, please urge members of Congress to keep working on comprehensive health reform.  We also need to educate/form our selves and neighbors on some important aspects to this debate, informed by the Catholic moral tradition, rather than rely on blasts by various interests.

Here are some issues in health reform legislation that need to be considered:

  • Support Health Care Coverage for All :
    • Expand Medicaid to everyone under 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL);
    • Cover immigrants, both documented and undocumented;
    • Provide subsidies for low-income individuals and families up to 400% FPL;
    • Reform the health insurance market, by prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions, requiring guaranteed issue of insurance, and establishing premium rating restrictions;
    • Ensure access to preventive care and chronic care management;
    • Provide support for long-term care services by including the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.
  • Preserve Provider Conscience Protections and Support “Abortion Neutrality” — Not an Abortion Coverage Mandate:
    • Support an “abortion neutral” approach by continuing longstanding and widely supported policies protecting provider conscience rights; prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion; and not mandating abortion as part of any benefit package
  • Support Delivery System Reforms that improve quality of care, patient outcomes, and efficiency, but do not arbitrarily reduce reimbursement rates:
    • Support a targeted Medicare hospital readmissions policy focused only on the top 8 to 10 conditions for readmission;
    • Support a Medicare Value Based Purchasing program that reimburses hospitals based on improved quality of care, implemented in a budget neutral manner;
    • Test the feasibility of bundled hospital and post acute care payments through pilot projects and a study prior to considering a bundled payment system;
    • Ensure any public plan, if included, provides adequate payment rates for providers.
  • Ensure Sufficient and Fair Financing with “shared responsibility”:
    • Protect Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments by ensuring that any DSH payment reductions are tied to and occur after demonstrated reductions in the number of uninsured.
  • Visit the Catholic Health Association of the United States for more details.  Catholic health care is one of the largest providers of health services in the US and throughout the world.  Our moral tradition is very much connected to the practice of medicine and ethics that have been a hallmark of the Christian tradition for centuries.  Health care practice and policy have been a concern of the Catholic Church for centuries.

Filed under: Culture, Economic Policy, healthcare, Market Place, Medical Ethics, morals, Social Justice

Catholic health/Charities position on health care debate

Recently, there has been an attempt by some bloggers and others to distort the position of Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Health Association and the St. Vincent de Paul Society on their and the Church’s position on the current health care debate.

The Catholic Bishops have been calling for reform in health care since they published a Pastoral Letter on health care.

For a clarification and articulation of the Church’s position see comments by Sr. Carol, the President of Catholic Health Association of the US in a CNS article.

Filed under: Catholic Charities USA, Church-State, Economic Policy, healthcare, Medical Ethics, morals, Social Doctrine

Cardinal Says Moral Education Needed To Fight AIDS

Notes Contributions of Religions in Senegal

DAKAR, Senegal, MARCH 26, 2009 ( The archbishop of Dakar is emphasizing that in order to combat AIDS in Africa, education in values is the most important necessity.

Cardinal Théodore-Adrien Sarr explained Tuesday to Vatican Radio that since 1995, at the request of former President Abdou Diouf, Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in the struggle against AIDS.

He noted: “We said we could preach and exhort in favor of abstinence and fidelity, and we have done so, both Christians as well as Muslims. And if today the rate of AIDS infection in Senegal is still low, I believe it is thanks to the religious communities, which have emphasized morality and moral behavior.”

“Given that I don’t think that condoms can eradicate AIDS,” he affirmed, “I believe our appeal for abstinence and fidelity, in other words, for moral values and the observance of sexual customs, continues to be truly valid.”

The cardinal acknowledged that there could be difficulties in some countries of the continent “because there are different customs.” However, he stated “that it is necessary to know that Africa is very varied and that there are African societies that know the concept of abstinence and fidelity very well and cultivate it” and that it “is necessary to help them to continue to cultivate it.”

Speaking about Senegal’s situation, he expressed the fear that “if they start to distribute condoms massively to our young people, this will not help them and it will be very much more difficult for them to control themselves and to remain faithful until marriage.”

“I think that to help people through education to make the effort to control themselves continues to be a valid contribution for the prevention of AIDS,” he noted.

Papal visit

Cardinal Sarr observed, “It is a pity that instead of reflecting on how the Pope was received and especially all that he experienced with the peoples of Cameroon and Angola, some of the media put the accent almost exclusively on the question of condoms and abortion.”

“There were beautiful things on this trip that must be transmitted,” he continued. “Instead some found nothing better to do than fuel controversies which, moreover, were magnified, excessive as regards the rest of the content” of the Papal visit.

The cardinal asserted that “it is increasingly necessary that the West and Westerners stop thinking that they alone are the depositories of truth, that only what they conceive as the way of seeing and behaving is valid.”

Making a personal reflection on the Papal trip, the prelate said that “if the Pope put these two problems on the table, that of abortion and condoms, perhaps it is to remind us Africans, and especially Africa’s bishops, that it is better to think with our own heads and for ourselves; to live the Gospel and its values and to promote them for ourselves, to foster those values that don’t always seems to be our own.”

“In any case,” he concluded, “I have committed myself to work so that we can express ourselves and demonstrate that we have ways of seeing and acting that are valid, even if they are different from those that some propose to us.”

Filed under: Culture, healthcare, Medical Ethics, Social Doctrine

Concerns about Sebelius HHS Nominations

More from Archbishop Naumann on the Sebelius HHS nomination

Posted on March 5, 2009 by Dennis Sadowski

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., has been questioning Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic, for her support of legalized abortion for a year and a half now, and he has asked her on at least two occasions not to present herself for Communion in Kansas.

In his latest public comment, he now says her nomination by President Barack Obama as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is “troubling” because of her abortion stance. The archbishop offered his most recent comments about Sebelius — summarized in a Catholic News Service report – in his column in the March 6 issue of The Leaven, the archdiocesan newspaper.

In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, he further explains his stance.

While calling Sebelius a gifted leader who represents Catholic social teaching well when it comes to concerns such as the development of affordable housing and increasing access to health care for poor children, Archbishop Naumann strongly takes the governor to task for her long-held support for abortion. In the interview the archbishop said he can understand why Sebelius was nominated to the federal post but reiterated that he finds it troubling.

An excerpt: “But I think from the church’s point of view, it’s sad because it places another high-profile, pro-abortion Catholic into national leadership along with Vice President (Joe) Biden and Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and a raft of others that are in the Congress. And so I think it makes our job as bishops more challenging, because we have to be even more clear that this is not acceptable for a person in public service to say that they are Catholic and then to support these policies that are anti-life, you know go against the most fundamental of all human rights, the preservation of innocent life.”

Filed under: healthcare, Medical Ethics, Social Doctrine


VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2009 (VIS) – In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present a forthcoming academic congress entitled: “New frontiers of genetics and the dangers of eugenics”. The congress, promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life for the occasion of its twenty-fifth general assembly, is due to take place in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall on 20 and 21 February. Participating in today’s presentation were Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, respectively president and chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Bruno Dallapiccola, professor of genetic medicine at Rome’s “La Sapienza” University. ”

The congress will be attended”, Archbishop Fisichella explained, “by scientists from a number of universities, who will examine the question from various points of view: from the strictly biomedical to the legal; from the philosophical and theological to the sociological”. “Thanks to the great work undertaken over the last ten years, above all that of Francis Collins on the Human Genome Project, it is possible to map thousands of genes and thus achieve an understanding of various types of disease; this often offers a real possibility of overcoming heredity ailments”.

“The aim of this congress is to verify whether, in the field genetic experimentation, there are aspects that tend towards – or effectively implement – eugenic practices”, said the archbishop. Such practices “find expression in various scientific, biological, medical, social and political projects, all of them more or less interrelated. These projects require an ethical judgement, especially when it is sought to suggest that eugenic practices are being undertaken in the name of a ‘normality’ of life to offer to individuals”. “Such a mentality, which is certainly reductive but does exist, tends to consider that some people are less valuable than others, either because of the conditions in which they live, such as poverty or lack of education, or because of their physical state, for example the disabled, the mentally ill, people in a ‘vegetative state’, or the elderly who suffer serious disease”.

“Not always do the requirements of medical science meet with the approval philosophers or theologians”, said the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. “If, on the one hand, certain people frequently succumb to the temptation to consider the body in purely material terms, on the other, a concern to ensure the fundamental unity of each individual … is something that must not be marginalised or overlooked”. “Of course research aimed at alleviating individual suffering must increase and develop”, he concluded, “yet at the same time we are called to ensure the increase and development of an ethical conscience, without which all achievements would remain limited and incomplete”.

The Human Genome Project “is one of the great undertakings of the beginning of this new millennium”, said Msgr. Carrasco in his remarks. “If for medicine, and not only for medicine, a knowledge of the human genome is absolutely essential, it is equally important to identify its ethical, legal and social consequences”, he added. “Today”, said the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, “eugenics represents the principal discriminatory utilisation to which the discoveries of genetic science can be put. This is what the congress aims to examine. Obviously, the main objective is to call people’s attention to the considerable benefits we may obtain from genetic research if, as seems correct and appropriate, it attracts the efforts of researchers and public and private investments, while overcoming any temptation to follow the deceptive shortcuts presented by eugenics”. In his comments Professor Dallapiccola indicated that “the proliferation of genomic analyses is destined not only to make people’s lives more dependent on medicine, but also to transform the role of doctors. … The post-genome era risks producing a further involution of the figure of the doctor, who is perhaps destined to become a ‘genomicist’, in other words a specialist in interpreting the sophisticated data emerging from some highly-technological instrument”.

“We must”, he concluded, “take a critical stance, both towards ‘reductionists’ who believe the sequence of the human genome is sufficient to clarify the meaning of human life, and towards ‘determinists’ who hold that they can predict people’s biological destiny, simply be examining their DNA”.


Filed under: healthcare, Medical Ethics