Dr. Judith Mascolo, Father Michael Whyte, Dr. John Brehany
During a brunch immediately following the Mass, John Brehany, executive director of the national Catholic Medical Association (CMA), spoke about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 – the so-called Obamacare – and its impact on health care delivery, the medical profession and fundamental human values.
"We honor in a special way those who take care of the sick," said Archbishop Mansell in his homily. "This is one of the fundamentals of our faith," he said, referring to the Gospel mission to serve others that is conveyed in the corporal works of mercy. "We give thanks for those who provide for our health … those who are called to take care of others from conception to death."
The White Mass – so-named because of the white coats and uniforms health care professionals wear – was co-sponsored by a newly chartered guild of the CMA along with the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell.
Concelebrating the Mass were Father Michael Whyte, pastor of St. Catherine and chaplain of the state CMA guild, and Father Douglas Mosey, president and rector of Holy Apostles College and Seminary, where the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center is located.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate health care as a holy ministry that brings healing not just for the patient but for the entire community," said Father Whyte, later.
Dr. Judith Mascolo, who is president of the local CMA guild and who has a pro-life family practice in West Hartford, agreed. "I’m so pleased that Archbishop Mansell has agreed to sponsor the guild that is growing and building awareness in the health care community," she said.
Participants were enthusiastic about the launch of the CMA guild and first White Mass.
"I take this as a moral and ethical obligation as a Catholic to come and learn more about the legislation," said Denise Trottier, a nurse from St. Patrick Parish in Farmington. "I feel my religious freedoms are being taken away; and it’s important as a Catholic to live by the standards of our faith."
In his remarks, Dr. Brehany said that the PPACA, which was written to reform health care and provide coverage for the uninsured, will cover an additional 30 million people (or slightly more than half of the uninsured) at a minimum cost of $1 trillion in new benefits raised through $500 billion in new taxes and $575 billion in cuts to Medicare.
He noted, however, that the 2,801-page PPACA has already triggered 150,000 pages of regulations needed to implement the bill, and that an estimated 159 new agencies and departments will be created to help administer the bill, adding another $115 billion in projected costs.
Among some of the financial and health care delivery impacts to expect, he said, are the following: costs will be higher, people will lose and/or will change their health insurance, there will be fewer services and less innovation, health care will be more politically driven, people will have more difficulty seeing a doctor and the quality of care will deteriorate. He said that experts estimate that by 2016, insurance policies will cost $2,100 more as a result of the bill.
Looking at trends for physicians, he said that more doctors will leave private practice, opting to become part of larger organizations that can afford the costly overhead expenses created by the bill. "Physicians will not be able to have the staff to keep up with electronically filed records and federal regulations," he said.
Moreover, Medicare reimbursements, he predicted, will decline, putting pressure on physicians to discontinue Medicare patients; and physician satisfaction will decline, prompting more doctors to leave the health care profession.
Turning to conscience protections, which he noted are "vague, missing or not mentioned" in the bill, he said that funding for abortion is now included under the law; and abortifacients are mandated under a category called preventative services for women.