It’s hard to take Sister Keehan seriously


Moments ago, the House Republican leadership pulled their Obamacare replacement bill, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Before they pulled the bill, Sister Keehan attacked the ACHA as a pro-life “disaster.”

Sister Keehan is difficult to take seriously given her public opposition to the Bishops in providing cover for Obamacare, particularly when the threats identified by the Bishops, including funding of abortion and attacks on religious liberty materialized. Keehan traded these foundational issues, along with phony protections, for the promise of increased coverage, which has proven unworkable in its present form.

We can’t forget that Obamacare has failed miserably on almost every level. Even the touted coverage of the formerly uninsured is threatened by the insolvency of the program, the abandonment of markets by insurers, and the skyrocketing premiums for much of the middle class. There is nothing ‘pro-life’ about a program destined for failure, particularly for those that rely on it the most.

As to the pro-life elements that were included in the new bill, we wholeheartedly support the effort to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Doing so and re-directing those funds to community health centers is a win-win for pro-lifers and people who authentically care about women’s health.

The difficulty in unwinding Obamacare will not be easy. The transition, in any form, is going to involve difficult situations that partisans will exploit. Surely we can find a way to provide coverage to the most vulnerable, while allowing markets and competition to drive down premiums for everyone else. Whether it be tax credits, more market competition, block grants, or whatever. We now know a one-size, government-first solution for the entire country must be repealed as quickly as possible.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author


Brian Burch is President of


  1. Just another poor, blinded soul. May God have pity on Sister for her ignorance and bigotry towards her own church’s values.

  2. Elle Dandrea on

    Any nun no matter how compassionate they would like to be seen as, is no longer Christian once they approve of killing the very LIFE Christ has claimed He IS!

  3. I don’t know how this organization can claim to be pro-life without mentioning the actual policies included in this bill.

    1. No mandated coverage for maternity and infant care.

    You fundamentally don’t understand how insurance works. Your write: Surely we can find a way to provide coverage to the most vulnerable, while allowing markets and competition to drive down premiums for everyone else. How, exactly, will this be achieved by letting people exit the market? If you reduce the risk pool, and the only people in the risk pool are those who need the service, how will prices not skyrocket?

    This would be like allowing all people who don’t get in collisions to no longer buy collision insurance. What would be the price for those who still get in collisions?

    2. Medicaid cuts. You claim, with no evidence, that block granting Medicaid will somehow increase access. This is absurd. How will putting a cap on the care each participant can receive increase access? By capping expenses, the obvious outcome is reduced coverage of care. 45 percent of participants are children.

    The bill also requires unemployed women who give birth find a job within 60 days or get kicked off. Shall we ignore all early childhood research?

    3. Every analysis – Standard and Poor’s, Brookings, Kaiser, Health Affairs, CBO, finds the uninsured population will increase dramatically from this bill. Somehow in your criticism, you don’t mention a single statistic. How is having fewer people insured pro-life?

    This piece reads like a Trump message. No specifics, no data, vague phrases like “market forces,” and no actual steps to get it done.

    • “Every analysis – Standard and Poor’s, Brookings, Kaiser, Health Affairs, CBO, finds the uninsured population will increase dramatically from this bill. Somehow in your criticism, you don’t mention a single statistic. How is having fewer people insured pro-life?”

      The drop in insured, per the CBO anyway, was predicated on the fine for not buying coverage being dropped. No fine, and then less people buy.

      “Insurance” isn’t PL or anything else. People having insurance hasn’t lowered the costs under ACA. That’s the issue-not insurance coverage.

      • “CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.

        Later, following additional changes to subsidies for insurance purchased in the nongroup market and to the Medicaid program, the increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026. The reductions in insurance coverage between 2018 and 2026 would stem in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment—because some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped. In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.

        In 2018 and 2019, according to CBO and JCT’s estimates, average premiums for single policyholders in the nongroup market would be 15 percent to 20 percent higher than under current law, mainly because the individual mandate penalties would be eliminated, inducing fewer comparatively healthy people to sign up.

        Starting in 2020, the increase in average premiums from repealing the individual mandate penalties would be more than offset by the combination of several factors that would decrease those premiums: grants to states from the Patient and State Stability Fund (which CBO and JCT expect to largely be used by states to limit the costs to insurers of enrollees with very high claims); the elimination of the requirement for insurers to offer plans covering certain percentages of the cost of covered benefits; and a younger mix of enrollees. By 2026, average premiums for single policyholders in the nongroup market under the legislation would be roughly 10 percent lower than under current law, CBO and JCT estimate.
        Although average premiums would increase prior to 2020 and decrease starting in 2020, CBO and JCT estimate that changes in premiums relative to those under current law would differ significantly for people of different ages because of a change in age-rating rules. Under the legislation, insurers would be allowed to generally charge five times more for older enrollees than younger ones rather than three times more as under current law, substantially reducing premiums for young adults and substantially raising premiums for older people.”

        So for starters, your claim is incorrect. The CBO clearly lists three groups exiting the market: those who voluntarily drop out, those who can no longer afford coverage and those losing Medicaid.

        Beyond this, I’m baffled by what you think is the solution to the main problem of the ACA, that being cost on the individual market. Do you believe costs will go down if the risk pool shrinks? What insurance model actually operates like that?

        The CBO analysis indicates the tax credit structure will make it more difficult for older – I.e. sicker – Americans to buy coverage on the individual market. This analysis came before the amendment eliminating mandatory coverage for essential health benefits.

        If the only people buying insurance coverage for pregnancy are those who are pregnant, there is no cost sharing. The participants alone must cover 100 percent of expenses, plus profit.

        That’s the entire point. Since sick people (or those who need major care like pregnancy) are the least profitable market segment, how do you convince for profit businesses to cover them at an affordable level without a pool of healthy people?
        I await your response.

        • Thank you for injecting a dose of much-needed sanity into this discussion.

          No one wants to address the elephant in the room. I work in the insurance industry (auto). Does the staff at CatholicVote really think that a company like ours is going out of our way to find people with poor driving histories to purchase our products? Of course not! We want as many safe, low-risk drivers as possible. That’s how we make money.

          I love the phrase “allowing markets and competition to drive down premiums for everyone else.” In actuality, we have a base minimum we charge, because if we didn’t, all those bad drivers wouldn’t be able to afford any coverage whatsoever. Competition doesn’t change the base minimum that much across companies, because insurance needs a diversified risk pool to survive.

          This isn’t the time for ideology, folks.

          • What are you talking about?

            The ACA “diversified” the risk pool all right-they essentially waived underwriting.

  4. “Surely we can find a way to provide coverage to the most vulnerable, while allowing markets and competition to drive down premiums for everyone else.”

    You literally have no idea how insurance works. If healthy people pay less and less, then obviously the vulnerable sick people will pay more.

    This is the primary problem with the ACA: the individual market is too sick. This is not an Obama problem or a government is bad problem. This is a question of how you convince a for profit industry to take on the least profitable customers.

    Your recommendations, and the bill, make the problem worse. Block granting Medicaid would flood the individual market with people without the ability to pay. Literally makes the problem worse.

    Lower premiums for the healthy? Sign me up, hope the sick can afford their expenses.

    Competition? Again, what industry exists in which companies compete for the least profitable business? I can’t think of one. You also fail to address tacit collusion and price setting.

    If insurance exists to make profit, someone has to pay for the sick people somewhere along the line.

  5. The problem with your total faith in the market is that health care is not something people can go without. A good example is the airline industry. If you need to fly somewhere, you need to fly. Not a lot of other options. Prices are shockingly similar across companies, despite competition.

    If insurance companies all tacitly agree to charge a certain rate, people have to buy the product at that rate because they must have it.

    Perfect competition is an economic theory. Rarely does it play out in reality.

  6. The Affordable Care Act sought to address, among a number of issues, a particular pernicious problem: the lack of health care access for low-income and sick Americans. While access has been expanded, affordability remains an issue. Two things can be concluded: one, convincing a for-profit industry to take on incredibly costly customers is complicated. Two, telling people they would be better off without insurance because it is costly is a pretty wild statement to make.

    For seven years, this website has railed against the Affordable Care Act. Yet I’ve never seen a solution proposed by this site beyond meaningless phrases like “market forces.” Seven years later, this site saw the political victories it asked for come to realization. A replacement bill was proposed. By numerous analyses, the bill would exacerbate problems with affordability and access.

    And all this site can do is go after its political enemies.

  7. If the Sister is so bad why don’t the males just fire her?

    There appear to be few people complaining about contraception and loss of religious liberty. Those who hone their objections fail to look over their evangelical shoulders. Evangelizing is a form of attack on one’s religious liberty. The duplicitous hierarchy know this all too well. Trump and his cohorts in the church dwell on the word OBAMA Care. They want to, above all, eradicate the name from history.

    Obamacare works well in some states, but not here in Florida. Reason, Governor Scott refused to expand Medicaid because he was afraid the Federal Government would shift the cost to the states. Well, Scott is now faced with factoring that cost into his budget. The legislature has just announced a budged cut for low to middle income families that the expansion would have covered. Oh! I forgot to mention that Scott is a Republican and a minion of Trump..

    • True, 90% of Catholics use contraception, so the “few ” is the other 10%, including me. But I do not have a choice unless I want to file my own law suit and take it to the liberal Supreme Court for rejection. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still fighting the battle. Hobby Lobby and others have already been vindicated. The Little Sisters of the Poor face a fine, No it is a TAX, of $100/day or $36,500/ year per employee if they do not include contraception and abortion inducing drugs in their healthcare. totaling $70 million each year.
      Do you realize that the tax for an employer for not providing any healthcare is only $2000/year? and the tax for not buying health insurance at all was only $95???? Why the BIG Difference?
      Obviously the goal was not to make sure people had insurance. The Little Sisters provided insurance. The goal was to force the Little Sisters to violate their conscience and go along with the liberal agenda of the Obama administration. He wanted NO dissenters.

  8. Mr Burch, I am not sure where in health care you work, but you must not be seeing what I see every day.

    I work as a psychiatrist at an urban medical center. The ACA has dramatically improved the lives of so many of my patients. Many of them have said that without it, they may have died. Every day I serve people with debilitating mental illness and the ACA has changed their lives for the better, it has literally saved some of their lives.

    • JAYA: Perhaps Mr. Burch is addressing the millions of working, contributory and taxpaying citizens who now cannot afford their own ridiculously high insurance premiums and deductibles to the point of their own insurance being useless to these unhappy and now uncovered AHCA cardholders paying the freight for all the others.

      The AHCA was a wealth redistribution scheme designed to oppress the majority middle working class while attempting to falsely elevate the lower classes.

      In America, you are free to work yourself into the upper classes, you don’t rely on government schemes to garner votes to shove you there, unworthily.

      • Sums up this website pretty well – if you are low-income and can’t afford health care, you can either just be sick or die or become wealthy. It’s all up to you!

        • One need not be wealthy to procure health care- that was, until the Dem/Socialists made it another failed government program.

          Want good health care (or food, or housing, or vehicles, or technology, etc.), work for it, just like every other US citizen has done.

          In the US the only thing between you and any of the goodies is a job you are willing to work.

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