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Supreme Court & Health Care, Physician-Assisted Suicide Legislation Failing

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February 27, 2015

Supreme Court to Rule on Legality of Subsidies for Health Coverage

On March 4, the U. S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case, King v. Burwell, claiming that subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) are available only for those who enroll through exchanges “established by the State,” as the law is worded. 

Thirteen states including California are operating their own exchanges – government-administered websites where consumers can compare and choose insurance plans.  But the federal government is running the program in 37 states.  If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs, millions of lower- and middle-income Americans would become ineligible for subsidies and the law itself could collapse.

Currently about 11.4 million Americans are enrolled in private health coverage through
the Affordable Care Act.  In California, approximately 474,000 people have signed up through Covered California.

About 85 percent of those who have enrolled are eligible for financial help.  Subsidies, in the form of tax credits, currently average $268 a month for people in the states where exchanges are administered through the federal HealthCare.gov website, according to the Obama administration. 

Because California has its own exchange, there will be no direct immediate impact on subsidies in the Golden State.  However, a decision in favor of the plaintiffs could still impact Californians.

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Doctor-Prescribed Suicide Efforts Failing in States

As the suicide lobby broadens its efforts, 2015 is likely to be the first year of widespread euthanasia fights in the U.S.  Bills to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide have already been introduced in 15 state legislatures.

The first bill came up for a vote in Colorado, where it was defeated in committee, 8-5, on February 6.   The bill was sponsored by Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group that started its “life” as the Hemlock Society.  

Powerful testimony against the assisted suicide bill was given by Anita Cameron, who described herself as a black Latina “with multiple disabilities, two of which are degenerative, and one which will take my life.” She spoke for Not Dead Yet and ADAPT, two national disability rights organizations.

“This assisted suicide bill is discriminatory,” Cameron emphasized, “because certain people with certain disabilities and illnesses will get suicide prevention, while others will be ‘encouraged’, or even coerced to kill themselves.”

Cameron continued “Contrary to popular belief, fear of pain is not the main reason that terminally ill people want to die.”

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More on Oregon’s experience with doctor-prescribed suicide can be found in this USCCB analysis and an Action Alert is available to tell your Senator to vote no on SB 128.

March Is Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing

Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing is an annual event that unites congregations of all faith traditions, high schools and universities in California to raise awareness of individual, community and social needs arising from the current juvenile justice system.

This month is a time to open our hearts and minds through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The events through the month will initiate a dialogue between offenders, victims, and the community regarding the causes of crime and will suggest structures needed to prevent youth from becoming engaged in the cycle of violence.

The long-term goal of Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing is to offer young offenders hope and alternatives to a lifetime as a hardened criminal, while society implements more fully the principles of restorative justice.

Find out more by visiting RestoreJustice.com.


New Bills May Set Record

Last year at this time, 1503 bills were introduced in the California Legislature.  Today is the deadline for the introduction of bills for the 2015 session and as of Monday only 800 were introduced.  But during the course of this week alone, 500 new bills have been introduced and there is still today to go.

All of these bills have gone to the Office of Legislative Counsel where they have been drafted into legal language.  They will now be sent to their respective committees at the discretion of the leadership of both houses.  Hearings cannot be held on a bill until it has been in print 30 days, so serious legislative action on these measures will not begin for a month.

On the Web

In case you missed, the USCCB spoke out about the vital need to protect religious minorities in the Middle East in the wake of horrific violence recently.


The bishops are concerned about the root causes that drive people to leave their homes and migrate to new places. The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing this week on trade deals and how they impact migration. In January, the bishops who chair the bishops’ Justice and Peace committees wrote a letter affirming the values that Catholics see as needing protection in such deals.



February 27, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 9


For more information, contact the California Catholic Conference, leginfo@cacatholic.org, 916-313-4000, or visit www.cacatholic.org.