Alvare on Health Care

Professor Helen Alvaré comments on the debate between opinion journal Commonweal and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) over contents of the health care reform bill (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA), arguing that the law "does identifiably weaken protections against federal involvement in abortion, and weaken federal protection for freedom of conscience."

The Senate refused to incorporate existing law (the Hyde amendment's protections against abortion funding and the Weldon amendment's protections of conscience) into the PPACA, says Alvaré, instead adopting the "Nelson-Boxer" language.

Alvaré believes the PPACA should be amended with a clear statutory ban incorporating the Hyde amendment policy in order to avoid having problems arise within the individual states as to use of federal funding.

A Health Care Challenge to Commonweal and Timothy Jost,, July 16, 2010. By Helen Alvaré.

"This law will affect every American, every health plan and every health care entity from sea to sea. It will, as Commonweal surely knows, reframe the health care landscape for generations to come. With regard to the importance of the specific dispute about whether abortions might be funded in Community Health Centers (CHCs), for example, a recent article on CHCs in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that 5% of Americans currently rely on CHCs for their health care, a figure that could balloon to 40 million people under the new law. Abortion-rights groups are also aggressively promoting a combination of accounting gimmicks and community activism in order to get CHCs to offer elective abortions. The USCCB’s lawyers and policy analysts are responding proportionally to the size of the threats to conscience and to respect for vulnerable human life."