KC Bishops don’t like “socialized” medicine
John Allen has the latest from the bishops of Kansas City, Naumann and Finn, from a pastoral statement that seems to make a prophet out of the NYT’s David Kirkpatrick, as posted earlier. The two bishops, who have earned some headlines for various statements on abortion and crusading and communion, seem to strike out on a path against current health care reform that is decidedly different from that set out by the Pope or even the rest of the American bishops.
“In evaluating health care reform proposals, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves whether the poor would have access to the kind and quality of health care that you and I would deem necessary for our families,” they write. The bishops include legal immigrants among groups which merit improved care.
Nonetheless, Naumann and Finn also warn that “change for change’s sake, change which expands the reach of government beyond its competence, would do more harm than good.”
The bishops assert that “our country, in some ways, is the envy of people from countries with socialized systems of medical care.” Grounding their critique in the principle of subsidiarity, which holds that higher levels of authority should not usurp what can be done better or more efficiently at lower levels, the bishops write that a “centralized government bureaucracy” poses three risks:
- “A loss of personal responsibility”
- “Reduction in personalized care for the sick”
- “Higher costs”
Although Catholic teaching asserts a right to health care, Naumann and Finn say that this right “does not necessarily suppose an obligation on the part of the government to fund it.”
“In our American culture, Catholic teaching about the ‘right’ to healthcare is sometimes confused with structures of entitlement,” the bishops write. “The teaching of the universal church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services.”
A hasty expansion of government programs, the bishops warn, could create “a future tax burden which is both unjust and unsustainable” as well as fostering “permanent dependency for individuals or families upon the state.”
I’m not sure who they expect would fund health care for those unable to afford it. And I think the rest of their analysis is deeply suspect. But above all it seems counter to everything the church has been teaching on this score. More Acton Institute than Caritas in Veritate, ya know.
What gives? Apart from the political influences that may be at play, I have been viewing this intra-ecclesial debate over health care as a kind of tug-of-war between the principles of subsidiarity (as emphasized by Naumann and Finn) and solidarity. Thoughts?