Friday, December 21, 2007

Do you bite your hypocritical thumb at me sir?

Bouncing around ye olde blogosphere today, as I'm wont to do, I stumbled across a post by Milwaukee's own folkbum, who noted an article written by MJS editorialist Patrick McIlheran about the recently passed access to emergency contraception bill. Folkbum rightfully points out both the hypocrisy and plain old disgusting nature of the article, homing in on one passage in particular.

Jones-Nosacek points out that Plan B amounts to an extra-large dose of contraceptive drugs. If people worry about trace amounts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in water, Plan B ought to be at least a little worrying, given that endocrine disruption is what it's all about, she says. Yet the law doesn't let doctors apply any medical judgment to the patient before giving the drug: It must be given on request to any woman of any age.
A man who has consistently railed against environmentalists who speak out against pollutants trying to use their own arguments against something he opposes? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Beyond that, the article argues that religious hospitals shouldn't have to make emergency contraception available to rape victims because it violates their right to refuse to do something that goes against their beliefs. It's a common argument, and one with some merit: after all, I'm a huge proponent of the separation of church and state, so just as I believe that no one should dictate what religion I should or should not follow, I also believe that no one should force someone to do something that goes against their beliefs (unless, of course, we're talking about life-and-death situations and cases involving abuse).

But here's the thing: those Catholic (and other religious) hospitals? They're getting something like half of their operating expenses from public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Very little of their funding comes from churches or other religious sources. Here's the breakdown:

• Combined Medicare and Medicaid payments accounted for half the revenues of religiously-sponsored hospitals in 1998.
• In 1998, religious hospitals nationwide received more than $45.2 billion in public funds: $35.7 billion in Medicare payments, an estimated $8.8 billion in Medicaid payments and nearly $700 million in other types of government appropriations. In 1999, Medicare alone provided $41.3 billion of sectarian hospitals’ patient revenues.
• The other half of religious hospitals’ operating revenues came almost entirely from insurance companies and other third party payers, not from churches or other religious sources.
• By 1999, of all community hospitals, religiously-sponsored facilities were the most reliant on Medicare payments, with Medicare alone accounting for 36 percent of gross patient revenue (compared to 34 percent for all hospitals). Religious hospitals, like nonsectarian facilities, used federal funds from the 1946 Hospital Survey and Construction Act (better known as Hill-Burton) to rapidly expand in the 1950s and 60s. Many of those same hospitals now utilize tax-exempt government bond issues to obtain low-cost financing of reconstruction and further expansion, the study found In two large states, New York and California, religious hospitals received at least $650 million from such government bond issues in 1998. Like other non-profit entities, religious hospitals enjoy the benefits of tax-exempt status, including exemption from property taxes and eligibility for charitable donations.
If an organization is getting most of its funding from public, governmental sources, then it ought to be beholden to the rules and mores codified in state and federal law. Otherwise all the arguments for "separation of church and state" being thrown around by opponents to the Plan B laws are rendered the hideously hypocritical bleats we've long suspected they were.

A hospital wishing to turn their noses up at the law should cease accepting public funding, period. Otherwise, there is simply no excuse for forcing a rape victim to jump through a series of hoops to get EC. It's about as uncharitable and uncaring as you can get.

(image credit:


The CDP. said...

Exactly. Perfect. Good work!

Emily said...

Yours is the kind of comment I can get behind 100%. where did I put my DIY back-patter?


The CDP. said...

Any time I try to show my approval and agreement on a political issue, I always end up talking just long enough to put my foot in my mouth.

I'm trying this thing where I keep my fool mouth shut and appear more studious. It's not really doing the trick.

I hate Jews.

Damn it. See?

The Lost Albatross