My new column on health care was published in the Detroit News today. Full text follows:

As the health care debate moves to the U.S. Senate, much of the focus has been on how the Catholic bishops’ support of the amendment by U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, the Menominee Democrat, to prohibit the use of tax dollars to fund abortion was a major victory for the pro-life side. The bishops urged the House of Representatives, through local parishes and in a Nov. 6 letter, to ensure that “needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all.”

All people of good will, all those who value human life and dignity, should cheer this development.

But there’s more to this health care juggernaut that should give us reason to oppose it in its current form. We should first be concerned with the vast expansion of government reach into the private lives of millions of Americans.

This “reform” will create a system that will put bureaucrats in charge of personal health care decisions — not doctors. It will give the federal government an avenue to nationalize more than 15 percent of the U.S. economy, putting bureaucrats and elected officials in the role of manager and regulator — much as we’ve seen in banking and automobiles.

Amazingly, with the push for a $1 trillion-plus health care package and the attendant debt, we may soon see Canada with lower government spending (as a percent of gross domestic product) on heath care than the United States. All this, too, is a threat to human dignity.

What will this heavy burden of government spending and regulation have on U.S. health care innovation and competitiveness, which has to date pioneered so many advances? How many medical research and development firms would leave our shores under threat of higher taxes and regulation?

All the assurances from President Barack Obama that health care reform will not add “even one dime to our deficit over the next decade” seem more fantastic with every passing day.

A new report shows that projected Medicaid cuts, on which rests much of the financial funding for health care reform, would prove to be so onerous to hospitals and nursing homes that they would simply stop taking such patients. The report, by the chief actuary for Medicare and Medicaid, also questions how doctors and hospitals would cope with an additional 30 million people to the ranks of the insured, many of them into public health programs.

As it’s been said, if you think health care is expensive, wait until it’s free.

I also worry about the crowding out effect that this vast expansion of the government into health care will have on voluntary charitable action. Somewhere along the line, we have lost sight of the fact that charity and health care was not an invention of Washington bureaucrats.

How did the more than 600 Catholic hospitals and clinics, and many more hospitals bearing the names Jewish, Presbyterian, Methodist, Adventist and Baptist, get built in this country? It wasn’t through the sufferance of government.

Faith is the source of these works, not policy initiatives. Faith, because it involves the entire scope of the human person, body and soul, has not only a larger claim on our allegiance but a deeper commitment to our well-being. Our faith communities know us as persons, not as welfare case numbers or voting blocs.

The effect of the proposed massive expansion of government and vast increase in federal debt is unknown, but if the experience of other countries is any guide, it will lay a crushing burden on the lives of future generations.

The Senate health care reform package should be scrapped. The ill-conceived plan will break the budget, provide fewer opportunities for market-driven health care solutions and limit those who want to practice real charity.

  • Dave

    I agree that Caesar has no just solutions. If you have time, see my article on the Center for a Just Society. We have got to do it ourselves. There is no other way.

    The article is at: http://www.centerforajustsociety.org/press/forum.asp?cjsForumID=1166&nav=publications

    God bless you.

  • Phil

    Thank you Fr. Sirico for taking a step in the direction of informing good and faithful Catholics that further encroachment on our freedom is imminent with this bill.

    We have to learn how to practice charity. God created the poor for the rich, and vice versa, the rich for the poor. With the Church standing in between, she acts as a constant nudger, informing us how to live charitably and honestly in whatever our state of life.

    If the rich be rich, let them give to the poor freely, for their reward is in heaven. If the poor be poor, let them still retain their dignity by living honestly and their reward will await them in heaven.

    Take me off the socialist express -Phil

  • DisturbedMary

    I’m in total agreement that the health care reform should be scrapped. I would also scrap the name of it since it has nothing to do with health or care or reform. It is the Culture of Death expressing itself in exquisitely demonic detail. It achieves the lifelong political dream of Saul Alinsky acolytes, small c catholics like Rangel, Durbin, Leahy, Kennedy, Pelosi, who were weaned on Saul Alinsky the union and community organizer. It is this remarkable dedication in Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” that says it all: to “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”