The Corner

Universal Confusion

An e-mail in response to this post:

I was nodding in agreement until I got to this part: “And when the bishops say that all people should have ‘ready access to quality, comprehensive, and affordable health care,’ that doesn’t even mean that they have endorsed universal coverage, let alone a specific legislative attempt to come closer to it.” What else could it mean? “Universal” means “all people,” doesn’t it? . . .

Pro-choicers always say that [we] pro-lifers care about life only up to birth. If health-care reform would save lives, shouldn’t we be for it?

The bishops think all people should have access to good, affordable care. Universal coverage means that all people should have comprehensive insurance policies. These aren’t necessarily the same thing. It’s possible that legislation ensuring universal coverage would bankrupt the country while giving everyone access to a wait list. It’s also possible that free-market reforms would lead to universal access to good, affordable care without comprehensive insurance policies for all: Maybe we’d see declining prices for routine care paid for out of pocket, cheap insurance policies that covered catastrophic expenses, and charitable institutions that filled the gaps.

To say something is possible is of course not to say that it is the case. My point here is that a Catholic may in good conscience believe these things — and may in good conscience believe that extending insurance coverage won’t save many lives — and therefore favor alternatives to the Reid and Pelosi legislation.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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