The Tennessee Catholic Public Policy Commission strongly supports providing all Tennesseans with access to adequate healthcare, and calls for reform of our healthcare system to provide services to greatest number of people regardless of their ability to pay.
Our approach to healthcare is shaped by a simple, fundamental principle: every person has the right to adequate healthcare. This right flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons who are made in the image and likeness of God. Healthcare is more than a commodity; it is a basic human right, and an essential safeguard of human life and dignity. Our consistent teaching that each human life must be protected and that human dignity be promoted leads us to insist that all people have the right to health care.
Over the past decade TennCare has been the best option available to meet this need; however we encourage the General Assembly to take steps to strengthen the program so that it operates in a fiscally responsible manner while ensuring that none of our citizens, particularly children, are left without access to healthcare. To provide healthcare to the greatest possible number of people, we have to do everything that we can to not waste money.
The virtue of solidarity and our teaching on the preferential option for the poor and the vulnerable require us to measure our health system in terms of how it affects the weak and disadvantaged. In seeking the fundamental changes that are necessary, we focus especially on the impact of health policies on the poor and vulnerable.
We believe government has an essential role to play in assuring that the rights of all people to adequate healthcare are respected. This will require concerted action by federal, state, and other levels of government and by the diverse providers and consumers of healthcare.
We believe reform of the healthcare system which is truly fundamental and enduring must be rooted in values that reflect the essential dignity of each person, ensure that basic human rights are protected, and recognize the unique needs and claims of the poor. We recommend to the leaders of Tennessee the following criteria for reform:
Respect for Life: Whether it preserves and enhances sanctity and dignity of human life from conception to natural death.
Priority Concern for the Poor: Whether it gives special priority to meeting the most pressing healthcare needs of the poor and under served, ensuring that they receive quality health services.
Comprehensive Benefits: Whether it provides comprehensive benefits sufficient to maintain and promote good health; to provide preventative care; to treat disease, injury, and disability appropriately; and to care for persons who are chronically ill or dying.
Pluralism: Whether it allows and encourages the involvement of the public and private sectors, including the voluntary, religious, and nonprofit sectors, in the delivery of care and services; and whether it ensures respect for religious and ethical values in the delivery of healthcare for consumers and for individual and institutional providers.
Quality: Whether it promotes the development of processes and standards that will help to achieve quality and equity in health services, in the training of providers, and in the informed participation of consumers in decision making on healthcare.
Cost Containment and Controls: Whether it creates effective cost-containment measures that reduce waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary care; measures that control rising costs of competition, commercialism, and administration; and measures that provide incentives to individuals and providers for effective and economical use of limited resources.
Equitable Financing: Whether it assures society's obligation to finance universal access to comprehensive health care in an equitable fashion, based on ability to pay; and whether proposed cost-sharing arrangements are designed to avoid creating barriers to effective care for the poor and vulnerable.
In our view, the best measure of any proposed healthcare initiative is the extent to which it combines universal access to quality health care with cost control, while ensuring care for the poor and preserving human life and dignity.