As Senator Ben Nelson contemplates new healthcare abortion language, the Catholic Health Association likes what it sees so far. The CHA is strong in Nebraska with close to 20 affiliated hospitals. You can bet that Nelson is hearing from those hospitals. The statement by CHA is below and then some Brody File analysis will follow:
CATHOLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES STATEMENT COMMENT REGARDING PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT OF 2009
WASHINGTON, DC (December 17, 2009) – The following statement is being released by Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive office of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA):
The Catholic Health Association is pleased to learn of the work being done to improve the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009. As we understand it, the Senate intends to keep the President’s commitment that no federal funds will pay for abortions and in addition, provide significant new support for pregnant women.
While we have yet to see the manager’s amendment or Senator Robert Casey’s final abortion amendment language, we are encouraged by recent deliberations and the outline Senator Casey is developing. It is our understanding that the language now being written would prohibit federal funding of abortion, ensure provider conscience protection and fund programs to provide supportive care to some of the most vulnerable pregnant women in our society.
Especially now that a public health insurance option is no longer on the table, we are increasingly confident that Senator Casey’s language can achieve the objective of no federal funding for abortion. We urge Congress to continue its work toward the goal of health reform that protects life at all stages while expanding coverage to the greatest possible number of people in our country. We look forward to reviewing the final language these improvements contemplate.
Ben Nelson says he is relying quite a bit on pro-life groups back in Nebraska when it comes to this decision. Of course, National Right to Life hates the compromise but that is to be expected since they're looking at Stupak language or bust on this. The CHA plays an important role here. They represent all major Catholic health organizations. Pro-life groups like National Right to Life will be quick to point out that CHA has backed pro-choice Tom Daschle as HHS Secretary nominee but that's missing the point. The question here is will Nelson have a strong listening ear when it comes to what CHA is saying. They have clout.
There's been a good amount of talk about the influence of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and rightly so. But CHA is a major player here too. Either way, the CHA may give Nelson some political cover if he decides to accept a compromise that falls short of Stupak.