While members of Congress continue to debate whether to include a “public option” health-care plan in a national health system, the Catholic Medical Association has called for a “reset” of the entire effort.

The CMA, meeting in Springfield, Ill., for their 78th annual general assembly, issued a resolution Oct. 23 calling on Congress to “begin the process anew.”

One of the things the doctors call for is not an idea you’ll hear much about in Congress or in the mainstream media.

But it’s a very important principle in Catholic social teaching: subsidiarity.

That’s the idea that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization.

So the Catholic physicians urge “that Congress enact legislation that respects the principle of subsidiarity by recognizing the rights of individuals, families, groups and communities to make decisions about their health-care insurance and treatment options.”

Why is this Catholic doctors’ group calling for such a thing? “In an effort to change health-care financing and delivery, some bills propose to vest, in a small set of unelected officials in the federal government, unprecedented powers to dictate the content of and charges for health-insurance plans, the authorization of treatments and provider reimbursement,” the resolution warns.

Said CMA’s president, Dr. Louis Breschi, “The whole thrust of the legislation voted out of congressional committees is flawed. It tries to fix the real problems we have in health care with massive new government spending and mandates.”

The legislative process is trending toward a one-size-fits-all system. That also precludes any possibility that physicians or institutions opposed to certain practices won’t have a say.

“Committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have refused to establish minimal, much less adequate, respect for the conscience rights of health-care providers and have refused to exclude funding of abortion,” the resolution says.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Catholic Democrat from Michigan, is still trying to bring the issue of public funding of abortion in health care to the floor of the House. The Democratic leadership in the House, though, is resisting that.

—John Burger