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2019
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Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
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Frank Bernheisel
Posted 02.06.12
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

Churches should comply or lose tax exemptions

Dear Senator Webb,

The Catholic bishops in the US have begun a political campaign to repeal part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). I believe that because of this type of political activity the Catholic Church and all other churches should lose their tax-exempt status, but that is not my subject today.

Church-related hospitals and other health service providers are regulated under the new PPACA. This makes sense when we as a country are trying to provide a uniformly high quality of health care.

In the US there are approximately 5000 hospitals of which 629 or 13 percent are Catholic. When the metric is beds or admissions, the percentages are over 15 percent. These institutions employ over 640,000 people.

Other churches own and manage many more hospitals as well. These institutions employ millions of people. Many of the employees are not members of the sponsoring churches.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued guidelines under the PPACA requiring new insurance plans to cover contraceptives. These guidelines provide for uniform health insurance coverage in this area of women's health.

The Catholic bishops and other religious groups have objected to having these guidelines apply to the church-owned institutions. Many states already have similar requirements and many church institutions comply.

Senator Marco Rubio has introduced a bill to overturn the insurance guidelines and repeal part of the PPACA. I disagree with Senator Rubio on this and urge you to oppose his legislation.

Further, I would make the point that these institutions accept federal payments and provide health care to the general public; in many cases they provide the only care available.

These institutions need to conform to standards of care guidelines with no exceptions for religious beliefs.

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