- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

House and Senate health care bills are floundering because congressional leadership, mistakenly interpreting a vague “hope and change” sentiment among the electorate for a radical shift in American values, failed to discern the difference between “reforming” and “transforming” health care (“Baucus health plan attracts no GOP backers,” Nation, Wednesday).

Rather than smartly focusing on practical reforms of health care finance, some leading members of Congress instead launched a broad ideological thrust that would inject the government into the private patient-physician relationship.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the linked issues of abortion mandates and conscience rights. Both the House bill (H.R. 3200) and the Baucus Senate bill unveiled this week attempt to obfuscate the fact that the federal government suddenly would be footing the bill for elective abortions. The bottom line, despite all the rhetorical legerdemain and Enron-like accounting screens, is that an abortionist would be able to send a bill to the Department of Health and Human Services and get a check from the federal government to pay for the abortion.

The insertion of abortion ideology into health care reform may please profit-making performers of abortions such as Planned Parenthood, but it alienates Main Street. A new Public Opinion Strategies poll shows that by a 5-1 margin, Americans are less likely to support a health plan that has the government pay for abortions.

On conscience rights, the Polling Company’s survey of Democrats, Republicans and independents revealed that by 2-1 margins, Americans support conscience rights in health care and are disinclined to vote for legislators who go along with the president’s plan to get rid of the conscience protection regulation.

If congressional leaders were to exchange radical ideology for pragmatic compromise, Congress might be able to churn out a popular bill that promotes greater efficiency without adding government bureaucracy, provides safety-net insurance for the poor without breaking the bank or unjustly redistributing wealth, and reduces the need for defensive medicine while incentivizing preventative medicine.

JONATHAN IMBODY

Vice president for government relations

Christian Medical Association - Washington Office

Ashburn, Va.

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