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Thursday, January 19, 2017

No tax dollars for abortion bill moving through new Congress

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet next Monday, January 23, to consider the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7). Text of the bill is available here, and a Washington Times story about the bill is here.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), seeks to do three things. The bill:
  1. Makes the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions  permanent and government-wide;
  2. Ensures that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) faithfully conforms to the Hyde Amendment while Congress works to repeal and replace the ACA;
  3. Until a new plan year begins, the bill ensures full disclosure, transparency and the prominent display of the extent to which any health insurance plan on the exchange funds abortion.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Physicians urge Congress to shift health funds toward federal centers and away from abortion industry

The 18,000-member Christian Medical Association today urged Congressional leaders to  shift health funds toward federal centers and away from abortion industry. CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the following letter:
Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell:
Thank you for your strong, principled and common-sense leadership on the issue of preventing American tax dollars from funding abortion on demand. Thank you also for your commitment to providing healthcare access to the poor and other vulnerable patients in need.
On behalf of the over 18,000 members of the Christian Medical Association, we urge you to:
1.      ensure the reallocation of funding currently used by abortion-performing, partisan political organizations such as Planned Parenthood, by directing that funding instead to the over 13,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Centers (RHCs); and,
2.      overturn, through the Congressional Review Act, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule finalized December 19, 2016, titled "Compliance with Title X Requirements by Project Recipients in Selecting Subrecipients," in order to ensure that states are allowed to take a similar direction in allocating federal funding.
Many of our members serve in federally funded centers that focus on providing care to patients regardless of who the patient is or what the patient's values, orientation, ethnicity or any other qualities may be. As you know well, needy patients depend on these centers and on physicians like our members to provide healthcare when likely no one else would provide healthcare for them. FQHCs provide comprehensive services and a “medical home” for whole families and work in the areas of most critical need.
According to the independent government watchdog (GAO) in 2012, FQHCs served 21 million individuals and provided services including STD testing, cancer screening and contraceptive management, as well as other services including immunizations and general child wellness exams. FQHCs and RHCs often meet patient needs on modest budgets, and those who serve in these centers often do so at great personal financial sacrifice. Unlike Planned Parenthood, which follows an aggressive business plan designed to maximize profits on services such as abortion, these centers exist for the purpose of serving the nation's most needy patients.
Yet some medical groups like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, whose pro-abortion ideology aligns with Planned Parenthood and whose members profit personally from working with Planned Parenthood, decry "political interference in the patient-physician relationship." This cry comes, oddly enough, while applying pressure on politicians to fund political groups like Planned Parenthood. It is also worth observing what sources such as the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and PolitiFact National have confirmed--that Planned Parenthood spends millions of dollars each year for one partisan purpose: to elect Democrats and defeat Republicans.
It's hard to get more political than that, and it's impossible to get more politically partisan than that.
The majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars to subsidize abortion, and they certainly do not want their tax dollars to subsidize an abortion-performing partisan political machine. Because of the strong concern of American taxpayers, existing federal law addresses direct funding of abortion. However, the fungible nature of federal grants to Planned Parenthood means that every American's tax dollars, regardless of their convictions about abortion, are being used to prop up the abortion industry.
Any organization that wishes to avoid political entanglement can do so quite easily--by simply foregoing government funding. Those who seek funding should expect federal and/or state oversight, requirements and standards.
Even the most modest of standards should disqualify from federal funding organizations such as Planned Parenthood, given the recent findings of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, the list of 15 criminal and regulatory referrals made by the Panel, and the referral by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to the FBI and the Department of Justice for investigation and potential prosecution.
If any organization can and should do without federal funding, the billion-dollar, corrupt abortion business Planned Parenthood is a prime example.
We respectfully urge you to reallocate American tax dollars away from such profit-centered, divisive and partisan organizations and provide funding instead to patient-centered, non-controversial and nonpartisan Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Centers (RHCs). And we urge you to ensure that states can do the same, applying reasonable state standards and requirements to those who seek to use taxpayer funds.
Thank you very much for your consideration of these views.
Sincerely,
David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
CEO

CMA court victory protects doctors on transgender decisions

In the waning days of the Obama administration in 2016, the US Department of Health and Human Services launched a new regulation aimed at conforming all healthcare professionals and facilities to the Obama administration's ideology on transgender issues.
The rule left no room for medical judgment or religious objection regarding treatments and procedures demanded by patients who did not want to remain the biological sex they were born with.
To protect the right of medical professionals to (a) exercise medical judgment based on research and evidence regarding transgender issues and (b) to exercise First Amendment religious freedom based on faith convictions, the Christian Medical Association launched a lawsuit to fight the government's coercion. We enlisted the services of Becket Law, known for its many victories for religious freedom, notably the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor Supreme Court cases.
On New Year's eve, a federal judge issued a favorable ruling, a preliminary judgment to stop enforcement of the aspects of the rule objected to in the CMA lawsuit. Becket Law announced the victory on December 31, 2017:

Court strikes down harmful transgender mandate

Ruling protects children and doctors, hospitals from federal regulation
For Immediate Release: December 31, 2016
Media Contact: Melinda Skea | media@becketfund.org | 202-349-7224
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Moments ago a Texas court protected the rights of families and their doctors to make medical decisions for their child free from government bureaucrats’ interference.
The court ruling comes after eight states, an association of almost 18,000 doctors, and a Catholic hospital system challenged a federal regulation that requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children, even if the doctor believes the treatment could harm the child. Doctors who followed their Hippocratic Oath to act in the best interest of their patient would have faced severe consequences, including losing their job.
“This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures that the government itself recognizes can be harmful, particularly to children, and that the government exempts its own doctors from performing,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, which filed a lawsuit against the new federal regulation. “Today’s ruling ensures that doctors’ best medical judgment will not be replaced with political agendas and bureaucratic interference.”  
The new regulation applied to over 900,000 doctors—nearly every doctor in the U.S.—and would have cost healthcare providers and taxpayers nearly $1 billion. The government itself does not require its own military doctors to perform these procedures. It also does not require blanket coverage of gender transition procedures in Medicare or Medicaid—even in adults—because HHS’s experts admitted research is “‘inconclusive’ on whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes,” with some studies demonstrating that these procedures were actually harmful. But a doctor citing the same evidence and using their best medical judgment would have faced potential lawsuits or job loss. 
 A recent website provides leading research on this issue, including guidance the government itself relies on, demonstrating that up to 94 percent of children with gender dysphoria (77 to 94 percent in one set of studies and 73 to 88 percent in another) will grow out of their dysphoria naturally and live healthy lives without the need for surgery or lifelong hormone regimens.
“This court ruling is an across-the-board victory that will ensure that deeply personal medical decisions, such as gender transition procedures, remain between families and their doctor,” said Windham.
Becket Law defended Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations from the new government regulation. The States of Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mississippi joined Becket’s legal challenge. More information can be found at www.transgendermandate.org.
For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at media@becketfund.org or 202-349-7224.  Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Additional Information:
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Federal 2017 Policy Top Priorities: Right to life and freedom of faith, conscience and speech

Christian Medical Association / Freedom2Care

Federal Policy Top Priorities - 2017

The Washington office of the Christian Medical Association (which hosts Freedom2Care) focuses on the fundamental issues of the right to life and freedom of faith, conscience and speech, which serve as the foundation for all other rights and freedoms. Following are some of the top priorities for the new year:

Freedom of faith and conscience 

1.      Protect conscience rights in healthcare by restoring the conscience protection regulation for healthcare professionals and institutions, along with its educational outreach program.
2.      Prevent government coercion related to abortion by passing conscience-protecting legislation (e.g., Conscience Protection Act - S 2927, H.R.4828; Healthcare Conscience Rights Act - S 1919; Abortion Non-Discrimination Act - S 50).
3.      Overturn  "transgender mandate" regulation, which disallows medical judgment and redefines Congress' biological definition of sex to include LGBT issues, by winning our lawsuit vs. US Dept. of HHS.
4.      Sweep away radical federal regulations by empowering Congress (e.g., through the  Midnight Rules Relief Act - S.3483, HR 5982) to disapprove of federal agency regulations that fall within 60 legislative days of a president's final term.

Right to life

1.      Ban abortions of developing babies at the stage in which they can feel pain (e.g., Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act - S.1670; HR 36-passed).
2.      Redirect tax dollars from abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood to federally qualified health centers (e.g., Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act - S 51, HR 217).
3.      Save lives of babies born in an abortion (e.g., Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act - S2066; HR 3504 passed).

Personnel

Promote and support pro-life, pro-religious freedom individuals for key positions including:
·         Supreme Court: new justices
·         Health and Human Services: Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Assistant Secretary for Health, Surgeon General, Assistant Secretary For Children And Families, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Director of National Institutes of Health, Director of faith-based office, Office of Civil Rights, Office of Global Health Affairs.
·         White House - Domestic Policy Advisor, director of faith-based office
·         Department of State – AIDS Ambassador (PEPFAR), Office of International Religious Freedom, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, faith-based office, Office of Religion and Global Affairs.

·         US Agency for International Development – Administrator, Asst. Admin. - Bureau of Global Health, faith-based office.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Three steps to landing a job in the new administration

1.    Learn about the opportunities and the process.
o   Top Senate-confirmed appointments position descriptions: (http://presidentialtransition.org/publications/viewcontentdetails.php?id=1352).
o   Guide for employees applying for positions and rights (Office of Personnel Management) (https://www.opm.gov/about-us/our-people-organization/support-functions/executive-secretariat/presidential-transition-guide-2016.pdf).
2.    Apply.
o   Administration application web page: https://apply.ptt.gov/ - submit your CV, brief essay and cover letter and indicate in what areas (i.e., agencies, job functions, policies) you'd like to work.





3.    Submit your information to candidate referrers.

Freedom2Care (exclusively for health professionals):

·         Send your CV (Word or .pdf format), along with 3-5 bullet points summarizing your qualifications, and a list of positions in which you are interested, to washington@cmda.org.

·         Federal Interest Survey: https://s.zoomerang.com/r/Freedom2Care - indicate your experience, interests and values.
·         Federal registry on LinkedIn -  keep your CV and get updates on opportunities for federal service. On the www.LinkedIn.com website (sign in or join for free), go to the search box, click the left arrow and select Groups. Type in Freedom2Care. (If you have problems, just email washington@cmda.org and ask to be added to the group.) How to import your CV to LinkedIn (http://tinyurl.com/h5q5yhk). Visibility options: http://tinyurl.com/hg28oj5

Heritage Foundation (for all candidates):

·         Restore America Candidate Form: http://tinyurl.com/jxpqo4p  – use to note your own availability. After completing this step, health professionals can email washington@cmda.org to request an endorsement (see below).
·         Restore America Recommendation Form: http://tinyurl.com/jtykn7o  – use to endorse/recommend a colleague.

*Types of Appointments:


  • Presidential Appointments with Senate Confirmation (PAS): 1,212 senior leaders, including Cabinet secretaries and deputies, heads of most independent agencies and ambassadors, who must be confirmed by the Senate. These positions first require a Senate hearing in addition to background checks and other vetting.
  • Presidential Appointments without Senate Confirmation (PA): 353 PA positions, mostly White House staff plus some in smaller federal agencies
  • Non-career Senior Executive Service (NA): 680 key positions just below top presidential appointees, bridging gap between political leaders and civil service throughout the federal government. Most SES members are career officials, but up to 10 percent of the SES can be political appointees. (see https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/senior-executive-service).
  • Schedule C Appointments (SC): 1,403 Schedule C appointees who serve in a confidential or policy role, ranging from schedulers and confidential assistants to policy experts.

Monday, November 7, 2016

"My Election" tool: Who's running? Where do I vote? What's on the ballot?

Consider...

Besides the presidency, this election will determine the balance of power in the US Senate and House, the makeup of the future Supreme Court, plus many state governorships and legislators and local officials. ONE can make a huge difference:
In 1801, one vote in the U.S. House broke the tie between presidential candidates Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.
In 1876, one vote in the Electoral College gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency.
In 2000, the presidency came down to a few votes in one state.

"My Election" tool 

Who's running? Where do I vote? What's on the ballot?
Find out by entering your zip code at the Freedom2Care
"My Election" tool
http://cqrcengage.com/f2c/home.
Thank you for exercising your privilege and duty as an American citizen! May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you help direct our government toward justice and mercy.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Returning Power to the Patient: A 10-Point Prescription

I've enjoyed the rare privilege of advising both presidential campaigns on domestic and international healthcare issues. Below are some broad-stroke recommendations on domestic healthcare reform:

Returning Power to the Patient

A 10-Point Prescription

Transfer power from Government
back to the People
As the cost of government-centered healthcare punishes patients and doctors and wreaks havoc on the economy and job market, Americans clearly need a new, patient-focused healthcare reform movement. That movement must take power away from bureaucrats in Washington and return power to the patient, medical decision-making to doctors and proven principles of competition, efficiency, innovation and quality assurance to American healthcare. The following ten steps outline in broad strokes an approach that a new administration and Congress can take to begin to build a healthcare system driven by proven medical and economic principles.
Repeal costly regulations
and job-killing mandates

1.      Make competition for insurance customers national, so monopolistic insurance companies in each state can no longer get away with charging high rates in the absence of competition. Companies all across the country will be competing for customers by offering customers the best coverage at the best price.
2.      Promote tax-protected health savings accounts, so the consumer takes back the driver's seat for her own healthcare. Health savings accounts return insurance to what it was meant to be—low-cost protection against big health crises that patients just couldn't handle out of their own pockets.
3.      Repeal the job-killing mandate of Obamacare and let employers hire back and add hours to their employees. Health savings accounts will let employers continue to contribute to their employees' healthcare while keeping costs manageable.
4.      Make sure that patients with preexisting conditions can get coverage through state high-risk pools and that poor patients get the hand up that they need—without wrecking everyone else's healthcare in the process.
Let doctors make
professional judgments
based on medicine and ethics
5.      Repeal the time-killing, decision-robbing federal bureaucracy of Obamacare and its tangled web of regulations and let doctors turn their attention away from mindless paperwork and back to patients and making professional medical judgments.
6.      Eliminate Medicare and Medicaid waste and fraud and restore reasonable and sustainable reimbursement rates and funding, so poor patients will receive care and doctors will receive adequate reimbursement for providing that care.
Streamline medicines and
promote price transparency
7.      Enforce the bipartisan conscience laws that protect some of our best doctors from discrimination and job loss simply because they follow the Hippocratic oath and won't participate in abortions, or because they base their decisions about controversial treatments on medical evidence and not government social policy.
8.      Follow the proven example of states that have implemented sensible controls on malpractice lawsuits. Patients with legitimate complaints must receive just compensation, but ambulance-chasing lawyers should not be allowed to milk the system with baseless cases that are more expensive to fight than settle.
9.      Streamline affordable medicines by incentivizing innovation and eliminating needless costly regulations and delays in bringing new lifesaving drugs to market.
10.  Empower patients and control spending by promoting price transparency to enable consumers to comparison shop easily and make informed decisions based on the actual cost of treatments.