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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why healthcare access hinges on civil liberties

In a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, Louisiana Republican governor Bobby Jindal focuses exclusively on financial solutions such as refundable tax credits and litigation reform. In actual practice, however, civil liberties protections may offer the greatest health benefit to the poor.
Each year in the U.S., Catholic hospitals care for one in six patients, and one in eight hospitals affiliates with the Catholic Church. With a sizeable network of Protestant hospitals and thousands of faith-based clinics also serving the poor, millions of Americans—especially in medically underserved areas--depend on faith-based healthcare.
In a recent national survey, 95 percent of faith-based physicians said they would “rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience."
While Congressional committees deep-six conscience rights amendments and the President trashes the federal conscience-protecting regulation, healthcare for the poor may well be riding on the civil liberties of the faith-based professionals and institutions who serve them.

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