by Ben Johnson
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 6, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com)—The nation’s Catholic bishops have vowed to close their religious institutions rather than comply with the HHS mandate that they provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. In a column printed on CatholicNewWorld, Francis Cardinal George urged people to purchase a copy of the Archdiocesan directory “as a souvenir,” because in two years the page containing a list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions “will be blank.”
Ed Morrissey of the Hot Air blog calculated what it would mean if the Catholic bishops shut down all religious institutions that are ineligible for the conscience clause under the health care reform law.
“The Catholic Church…operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion,” he wrote. “Almost a third (32 percent) of these hospitals are located in rural areas, where patients usually have few other options for care.” All in all, “more than one in six seniors and disabled patients get attention from these hospitals.”
As a result,120,000 beds would disappear from the U.S. health care system.
“I think the contingency is remote that all the Catholic hospitals will close,” Richard Ralston, the executive director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, told LifeSiteNews.com. “If they’re put in an intolerable moral position, they would have the right to do that.”
The closure of Catholic, Southern Baptist, and other religious institutions is but one element among many that critics say would reduce the supply of physicians and medical institutions once the president’s health care reform is implemented – reducing supply while tens of millions of newly insured Americans swell demand.
Ralston told LifeSiteNews, “The only way they say we’re going to reduce spending is we’re going to cut [government] reimbursement to providers and force more providers to provide services at below their cost. You don’t need to have a Nobel Prize in economics to know the long-term impact of that is to drive providers out of medicine.”
“Why go through 10 years of medical training to have Kathleen Sebelius tell you what you can collect from your medical patients?” he asked.
Medicines, too, may not be prescribed even after the Federal Drug Administration finds them safe. Ralston pointed to the comparative effectiveness regulation, warning it will result in the FDA “outlawing medications that work and are safe” because “they are expensive and don’t help enough people.”
The result of all of these policies will be more government spending and a larger government role in health care, critics warn.
South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy said at a House Oversight Hearing on February 16 that closing religious hospitals and schools “means government is gonna get bigger, because they’re going to have to fill the void…and maybe that’s what they wanted all along.”
Schools, philanthropies, and orphanages affiliated with a religious denomination would also close down.
Ralston said the First Amendment is not the only part of the Constitution being violated under the new arrangement. “No one should be forced to have recourse to freedom of religion as the basis for resisting this level of micromanagement and intrusion into health care,” he told LifeSiteNews. “It’s ludicrous to say that the rights of Americans to make their own decisions on their medical cares or physicians to use their own best judgment on medical care can be freely trampled unless they make an appeal that it violates their religious beliefs…It violating core values of all Americans.”
Ralston predicted that churches’ leading role in fighting back against an intrusive government mandate will lead to “vicious attacks on the religious for political reasons.”
“Freedom of religion (or freedom of anything) enrages the collectivist, intellectual, political, and journalist elites if it stands in the way of their control over every detail of our daily lives,” he wrote in a new column to be published shortly by the Orange County Register. “That makes religion itself the target of this rage.”