News Release: Catholic Institutions Call for Affordable Healthcare that Serves All Minnesotans

ST. PAUL, MINN. (March 6, 2012)—The Catholic Health Association of Minnesota (CHA-MN), an association of Catholic healthcare providers, and the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, today urged State lawmakers to create a state-level health insurance exchange that fulfills the aspirations of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to give Minnesotans greater access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Under the PPACA, states must show by January 1, 2013 that they are actively implementing an exchange that will be operating by January 1, 2014, or the federal government will impose one.

“The Catholic Church and Catholic healthcare providers have long advocated for healthcare reform that promotes access, quality, and affordability,” said Toby Pearson, CHA-MN executive director. “Minnesota should continue to be a leader in healthcare and implement an exchange that is able to address the many emerging challenges and opportunities in healthcare today, while at the same time respects the principle that true healthcare and medical ethics uphold the sanctity of life from conception through natural death.”

The PPACA allows states the flexibility to make determinations about the components of the health insurance exchange so that it best fits the state’s needs as well as complies with federal law. Under U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidance, states can choose the benefit set from among the largest existing insurance plans in the state. By selecting one of the state-specific plans, Minnesota is afforded the opportunity to set the benchmark of essential health benefits for our state.

According to the PPACA, maternity and newborn care must be included in any package of essential health benefits. Minnesota can join other states and exclude from coverage morally objectionable practices that do not constitute healthcare, such as abortion. An abortion exclusion would not prevent employers or subscribers from purchasing an additional rider to cover the procedure.

“Minnesota lawmakers should take the opportunity to build an exchange that accounts for Minnesota needs and values,” said MCC Executive Director Jason Adkins. “We cannot just do nothing and pretend the PPACA will go away.”

Adkins continued: “An exchange imposed by the federal government is unlikely to serve Minnesotans as well as something local leaders create. There is also a strong likelihood that a federally imposed exchange will reflect the Obama Administration’s policy of forcing people to pay for coverage of practices that are morally objectionable and do not constitute healthcare.”

He concluded: “It’s time for the Governor and legislative leaders to work together and continue Minnesota’s long traditions of health care excellence and respect for human life.”

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