September 25, 2004


U.S. Health Plans Include One With Catholic Tenets (MILT FREUDENHEIM, 9/25/04, NY Times)

The Bush administration has broken new ground in its "faith-based" initiative, this time by offering federal employees a Catholic health plan that specifically excludes payment for contraceptives, abortion, sterilization and artificial insemination.

The new plan, announced last week, combines two White House priorities. It is part of a $1 billion project seeking to involve religious organizations in all types of federal social programs. At the same time, the plan is a new form of coverage - a health savings account combined with high-deductible coverage - that is being promoted as a centerpiece of President Bush's health care policy.

The plan, which will begin enrolling federal workers in 31 Illinois counties in November, is sponsored by OSF Health, a unit of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, which runs the St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria and five Roman Catholic hospitals in Illinois and Michigan. [...]

Kay Coles James, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, said last week that the new additions to federal employees' health benefits would "empower" workers to control their medical spending. Ms. James, a former spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, which advocates anti-abortion policies, added that the program gave federal employees "more opportunities to make choices in the private sector."

But some critics expressed concern that this trend in health care might grow into a wider phenomenon. Is this "explicit denial" the first step in "denying federal employees a normal benefit that has been traditional for 30 years?" asked Philip R. Lee, a professor of social medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and a former assistant secretary for health in the Clinton administration. "Is this simply the opening wedge?"


Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2004 8:49 AM

What exactly IS "social medicine" and what do you have to do to get a degree in it?

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at September 25, 2004 1:08 PM

"denying federal employees a normal benefit that has been traditional for 30 years"

I thought defending something simply because it was old was a reactionary, conservative thing. Funny how the only traditions the Left wants to defend are the ones from which they think they benefit.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 25, 2004 3:31 PM

And, unless I'm mistaken, this Catholic health plan is an option that federal employees may subscribe to, but are not required to do so. Given this, is the critic arguing that "choice" is bad when it's THIS kind of choice?

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at September 25, 2004 5:37 PM

"Choice" is only good when you make the proper one, and so it's the duty of all right thinking people to make sure that the proper ones are the only choices you have.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 25, 2004 6:17 PM
« AS CA GOES...: | Main | Q TIPS: »