EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Fine-tune Obamacare so it serves everyone

2012-12-09T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Fine-tune Obamacare so it serves everyoneBy Seth Warren nwitimes.com
December 09, 2012 12:00 am  • 

We at Franciscan Alliance believe the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is in need of significant alterations. We hope the 113th Congress agrees.

Franciscan Alliance has been a leading provider of health care in our area for more than a century. We applaud the Affordable Care Act initiatives that ensure access to health care for all, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. We support the Affordable Care Act to the extent that it results in increased access to care for the estimated 30 million Americans who lack basic health insurance.

Our objections to the bill are simple and straightforward.

We believe the legislation falls short in three key areas, making certain vulnerable populations even more at risk. Until the legislation is fine-tuned to add protections that level the health care playing field, Franciscan Alliance cannot endorse the ACA.

We object to the idea that the Affordable Care Act will allow the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions, which is a direct contradiction to longstanding federal policy.

In addition, the law fails to include language providing essential conscience protection – within and beyond abortion. This has been illustrated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s preventive services mandate, which forces faith-based employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs. 

This goes beyond a simple objection. Our faith – that of all the Franciscan Alliance hospitals – calls on us to protect the rights and lives of the unborn. This imperative is not negotiable: It is central to our beliefs, our mission, our service.  

Third, ACA fails to require fair treatment of immigrant workers and their families. Provisions of the bill actually leave those individuals worse off by preventing them from purchasing health coverage in the new exchanges that will be created, even if they use their own money. This provision fails the ACA goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially those in need.

Since the law was passed in 2010, and then challenged, a fierce battle of political wills has raged over its constitutionality. 

Our hope is that common sense and the humanity instilled in each of us will prevail as we urge Congress back to the table to correct fundamental flaws in the legislation and make the Affordable Care Act a health care policy that truly serves everyone.

Seth Warren is president of Franciscan St. James Health hospitals. The opinions are the writer's.

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