Render unto Caesar: Obama Preaches to Catholic Health Association

Last Tuesday, President Obama gave a speech on healthcare to the Catholic Health Association (CHA), which was celebrating its 100th anniversary. The president recycled his campaign speech, making many claims about the cost of care, medical bankruptcy, and uninsurance, all of which we have debunked countless times in this blog.

He also asserted that Obamacare created jobs, claiming the health law was responsible for job growth since 2010. In fact, quality job growth coming out of the Great Recession has been remarkably slow in comparison with previous recessions, as I discussed in a previous blog post.

The most depressing part of the speech was his cheering the CHA for its role in passing Obamacare: “We would not have succeeded, if it had not been for you.” He got that right. The hospital lobbyists were critical in dragging Obamacare over the line, and the CHA comprises the largest denominational trade association of hospitals.

The CHA posts an interesting, short article about its history, noting that “between 1884 and 1915, Catholic hospitals in the United States had nearly tripled from some 200 to almost 600.” What a great history of growth, all achieved without federal intervention in health care! Some might even describe it as a blessing.

The late Pat Rooney, a pioneer of Health Savings Accounts and faithful Catholic, was a relentless critic of Catholic hospitals that gouge the uninsured with high prices. I wonder what the Catholic leaders, lay and religious, who founded America’s Catholic hospitals in the 19th century, would have to say about their descendants’ utter dependence on the federal government to carry out their mission.

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For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, please see the Independent Institute’s new book, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman.

John R. Graham is a former Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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