Obama to Catholic health leaders: Only ‘cynics’ would dismantle health reform

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Catholic Health Association President and CEO Sister Carol Keehan greets U.S. President Barack Obama as he takes the stage for remarks at the Catholic Health Association conference in Washington on June 9, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-OBAMA-CHA, originally transmitted on June 9, 2015.

Catholic Health Association President and CEO Sister Carol Keehan greets U.S. President Barack Obama as he takes the stage for remarks at the Catholic Health Association conference in Washington on June 9, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-OBAMA-CHA, originally transmitted on June 9, 2015.

(RNS) The 2010 Affordable Care Act is now “woven into the fabric of America” and only the most “cynical” would turn back the clock on health reform, President Barack Obama told the Catholic Health Association on Tuesday (June 9).

He came to the CHA’s annual assembly to praise the audience of 1,000 members for their role in the act’s passage in 2010, and he began by embracing its president, Sister Carol Keehan.

She praised his “leadership, creativity and perseverance,” and he promptly told the cheering crowd, “I just told Sister Carol I love her” and that the Affordable Care Act could not have passed “if not for her.”

But his speech was aimed at the cameras and beyond — at Congress.

Any day now, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in King v. Burwell on the legality of subsidies provided to millions of low- and middle-income policyholders in 34 states where there is a federal marketplace. The ruling could bolster the ACA as currently structured or send it into “a death spiral,”  Trish Riley of the National Academy for State Health Policy told NPR.

With some members of Congress and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in the audience, Obama’s speech was entirely about the success of his signature legislation and the need to keep it alive.

Obama recited statistics on how many uninsured are now covered and on the economic value of “portable plans in a competitive marketplace.” But he anchored his speech in the faith-based association’s moral calling.

“What kind of country do we want to be?” he asked in a series of rhetorical questions:

Is access to care a commodity “only for the highest bidders?” Or is it “a fundamental right?”

Health care today “is restoring the basic promise of America” and a critical part of creating opportunity for all, he said.

Example by example — the autistic boy who now speaks, the wheelchair-bound woman who now walks, the once-uninsured man now cured of cancer — Obama reiterated, “America is not a place where we turn our backs on the sick.”

Catholic facilities account for more than 20 percent of all health facility admissions in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Obama, who began his career as a community organizer whose salary was paid by a Catholic agency in Chicago, lauded the group’s efforts on the front lines, helping the sick, the poor and the uninsured.

“I am here today to say thank you for your tireless effort,” he said. “Without your moral force we would not have succeeded.”

The association filed a friend-of-the-court brief in King v. Burwell, calling the attack on the ACA “a tenuous legal challenge that needlessly threatens the law’s foundation and health care coverage for working families.”

Obama pledged Thursday, “We’re not going to go backwards.”

YS/MG END GROSSMAN

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  • bqrq

    Why would a Catholic organization invite Obama, knowing that he pushes and promotes gay marriage while claiming to be a Christian. Obama is wrong and hypocritical. Gay marriage is sinful and Christianity rejects sexual immorality. Obama should stop claiming to be Christian and avoid contact with children.

  • Greg1

    Sister Carol Keehan is apparently so intently focused on universal health care for all Americans, that she compromised within herself a drift from the USCCB’s position, and joined Obama on it. At some point she will need to realize that being Catholic, does not allow one to accept 9 parts good, and 1 part evil. It must be all good, or it cannot be supported.

  • Michael Glass

    What a strange idea. A universal health scheme is something that most other advanced countries take for granted. I can’t even comprehend how people in the United States could oppose it.

    As for Bqrq’s comment, the Affordable Care Act is not about homosexuality or gay marriage. Linking the two makes no sense at all.

  • John

    Absolutely not surprised the Catholics would talk and negotiate with Obama on these matters given their ultimate agenda is to maintain their power base and economic influence and wealth. Why should they not compromise on some out of date doctrines such as the sanctity of unborn life and heterosexual marriage.

  • Chris Anderson

    bqrq according to “you” it is sinful, as is forcing a rape or incest victim to have a baby or refuse to allow a doctor to save a mother’s life if it is a choice between mother and child. Sin is not what we do It is the reality of the relationship we have with God and with each other. That is one thing which biblicists and dogmatic Christians fail to understand. Marriage is a function of the state and pastors are given the legal right to marry. They do not have to marry anyone. This is not a Christian country. It is however a country in which Christians reside and come from many backgrounds and perspectives. Of course there are Christians who believe their church is the only true church. But in the USA . . e pluribus unum . . . out of many one. Something that some Christians should learn along with Saint Paul who said “Love does not insist on its own way”. History is filled with the violence against human beings when religion when it seeks conformity and uniformity.

  • JR

    Surprised the lamest duck, Obama, is seeking Catholic help after he has fought them on all of their protests against the doomed Obamacare. Catholic Charities has been forced to end its adoption program since gays must be considered. Contraception and abortion must be included care in all insurance plans, even the insurance provided by the Catholic Church. Gay marriage is his top “Dear Diary” entry, and he says nothing about Christians specifically being murdered in the Middle East.
    I wish he would just go to Hawaii and play golf until January 2017.

  • Stacy

    As a Christian, I say that marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN period. Obama is an idiot with no idea as to what he does. He needs to dry up and blow away and take his ideas of taking over the country with him. When he first came on the scene, I did not like him. Black had nothing to do with it. His lack of good ideas that we could all stand behind did. Even when he leaves office, it will take a long time to clean up his mess. LORD JESUS hurry back!!!!