I am not too proud to admit that I cried this morning when I heard that — shockingly — the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), including the individual mandate that made so many conservatives cranky. Justice Roberts, using the government’s B-team tax argument, sided with the non-cons on the bench for a stunning move forward in U.S. history.
According to the U.S. Bishops’ document “Faithful Citizenship”:
The moral imperative to respond to the needs of our neighbors — basic needs such as food, shelter, health care, education, and meaningful work — is universally binding in our consciences . . . as Blessed Pope John XXIII taught, “[Each of us] has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and, finally, the necessary social services.
They also write:
. . . the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act.
We have yet to know what political implications this ruling will hold. But, for now, I will bask in the beauty of this unexpected blessing.
UPDATE: The U.S. Council of Bishops just released a statement:
For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable. Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB’s position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.
Despite the fact that the law does NOT include or cover abortion, the Bishops still oppose the law for abortion-related reasons. In fact, in March of 2010, President Obama signed an executive order upholding and enforcing the ban on federal funds going to abortion and specifically noting that nothing in the Affordable Care Act could be used to circumvent those restrictions.
They also oppose it because it provides women access to (oh so, scandalous!) basic reproductive health care. And, finally (and on this point, I must agree!), they would like the ACA repaired to include immigrant workers and their families. They write:
Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly.ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money.This undermines the Act’s stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need.
My sources tell me that accommodations for immigrant families are being made at the state level with the development of health-care exchanges. Of course, that will not include all states (think Arizona and Alabama, for example), so immigrant inclusion at the federal level would be the most “life-affirming health care” plan.