On May 4th, 2012, I was a guest on the Steve Clark radio program on Altoona's Big 1290 WFBG AM to discuss the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), the HHS mandate, and the Catholic response. The following transcript from the two hour interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
My entire radio interview with Steve Clark is available online at
Steve Clark (SC): So the first thing you're going to ask is, OK, Dr. Brian Kopp, what are you going to be talking about today? Are you going to be talking about foot care, since Dr. Kopp is a Podiatrist? Tell us a little bit about who you are first.
Brian Kopp, DPM (BK): I am a Podiatrist in private practice in Johnstown PA. I grew up about three blocks from your studio here, so I could see...
SC: Get out of here! Did you really?
BK: Yes, we could see the towers from our front porch. So this is my "stomping ground."
SC: I can't imagine anybody from here moving to Johnstown.
BK: I couldn't imagine it at the time either.
SC: So I guess opportunity just presented itself.
BK: Its where the Lord provided, its where I ended up. But I love coming back to Hollidaysburg. Its home. We come in to Hollidaysburg every Sunday, visiting my parents and brothers and sisters. So this is home.
SC: So you deal with peoples' foot problems?
SC: All day long?
SC: God bless you. You know there are certain specialties in the medical profession, and I'm not going to go into them, but there are certain specialties that, if I had to be a doctor, I'm not so sure this is an area I would go into ... You got to have a calling.
BK: It's a good profession because people come in to us with pain, and they leave feeling better. So there is a lot of personal satisfaction in what we do.
SC: But that's not why you're here today.
BK: No, that's not why I'm here today. Actually what we do is a geriatric specialty so we have a lot of elderly patients, a lot of retirees, and this health reform is a big issue for them.
SC: I would assume you're dealing with a lot of diabetes and...
BK: A lot of diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, a lot of real serious problems.
SC: And obviously, the whole health care thing. You are a practicing Catholic. You have been sucked into this group, is there a name? My buddies Mark Frederick and Mark Chuff's group. Is it a group, an organization, do we have a name?
BK: They call the group, "For Life and Liberty." If you log into Facebook you can put in "For Life and Liberty."
SC: I never knew that!
BK: Yes, they are posting stuff occasionally there, publishing their ads in the local papers, under that headline "For Life and Liberty." They've run ads in the Altoona and Johnstown papers and Pittsburgh Tribune Review. So they're doing multimedia and so on. They're doing good work.
SC: Trying to spread the word, not just about the Affordable Care Act but about what aspects of the act are going to create some serious problem. Not just for Catholics, but for a number of people of faith, who happen to be in various types of businesses, whether it be a school of higher learning, whether it be a non-profit charity, a health care organization, a local clinic or hospital or whatever, where they have employees and they provide health care coverage to their employees. ObamaCare is mandating that, in now less than a year, you have got to provide, not have access to, but actually provide contraceptive care, abortifacient procedures, the morning after pill, sterilization procedures to those employees. And you've got to provide that free of charge to the members of your health group. Even if those particular procedures go against the tenets of your faith. That's where the problem is.
BK: That is where the problem is! This is the issue that is near and dear to our hearts as pro-life Catholics. We are being coerced against our conscience to provide procedures, to provide medications, to provide care that is diametrically opposed to what we believe as Roman Catholics, as Christians. It really is an attack on religious freedom. You'll notice that in the rhetoric this administration is using, they've gone from calling it "freedom of religion" to "freedom of worship.
They're essentially saying you can go to church on Sunday, worship God in those four walls, but don't you dare take it out of those four walls! There is really a war on religion going on. And because that's not necessarily politically correct in the wider population, they are hiding it by saying there is a war on women, and that we're preventing women from accessing care they need.
Nobody is preventing women from accessing care! The care is out there, its eminently affordable, its dirt cheap and in many cases its free. So the idea that the Church is having, or conservatives are having, a war on women is ridiculous.
SC: There are so many directions we can go with this here. The first thing I want to do is establish the fact that For Life and Liberty, Mark and Mark, you and the rest of the group (I consider myself a de facto member of the group), we are not necessarily in the majority. We are not necessarily even in the majority of the Catholic Church. According to the poll numbers, and again, you take poll numbers with a certain [skepticism], I have already seen ads that are in fact in rebuttal to the ads you guys have run!
BK: Yes, I have seen one in Johnstown that was just brutal.
SC: Yeah, there was one in Johnstown, "Catholics For Contraception" They want to see the Church change its policies on contraception. A lot of Catholics, a lot of Evangelicals who don't necessarily believe the same thing as the Catholic Church...
BK: More and of them do every day.
SC: Yes, but there are so many out there. And of course the mainstream Protestant church, long ago, in the 1930s, you know, they believed the same thing [as the Catholic Church regarding contraception]!
SC: You know, the Methodists did, the Anglicans did, the Lutherans did, the Presbyterians did, back in the 1930s. There was a point when, all of a sudden, they changed their doctrine and accepted artificial contraception as an acceptable practice.
BK: Not only did they believe in it, they acted on it! The Protestant legislators in the late 1800s actually passed laws forbidding the distribution of contraceptives. They were not written by Catholics, they were written by Protestants. They were called the Comstock laws. The Comstock laws were overturned in the 1960s by the Supreme Court. Griswold Vs Connecticut laid the groundwork for Roe Vs Wade because Griswold Vs Connecticut found that penumbra, that shadow of a right to privacy. And ironically the legalization of abortion was based on the striking down of the last remaining Protestant laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of contraception.
SC: This is an uphill climb for you, and the reason I brought all this up is because I've seen the poll numbers, and in fact I have one here that is incredibly disturbing to me. We were talking about abortion earlier in the week and I had mentioned the United Nations effort right now. The UN Secretary General is pushing very hard to have the member nations to provide funds to provide more contraception, sterilization, and especially more abortions to sub Saharan African countries where there is a lot of bad things going on. Because of the AIDS outbreak, you have African men who are in many cases raping young girls because they know they are HIV free. There are all kinds of things going on, a terrible problem with rapes and pregnancies and the United Nations is pushing very hard to have more money to provide for abortions. So I went through and I got some numbers: 42 million abortions per year world wide. 42 million souls are extinguished world wide, 115,000 per day. The thing that jumped out at me, in America, women who identified themselves as Protestants obtained 37.4% of all abortions. Catholic women account for 31.3% of all abortions. Does that number surprise you?
BK: It doesn't surprise me. What you have to realize in polling, if somebody was born and baptized in the Catholic Church, and hasn't set foot in a Catholic Church in the last 40 years they still tend to self identify as Catholic. It's a cultural Catholicism, it's not a religious Catholicism. When you do polling of people who actually go to church every Sunday, these numbers change dramatically, but it also represents a much smaller poll of Catholics. The number of people in this country who call themselves Catholic comes up to around 60 million. When you look at the number of people who actually go to church on Sunday, who actually believe the teachings of the Church, "real Catholics" as we call them, not just "Catholics in Name Only," that number shrinks to 30, 20, 15 million. When you look at the number of people who actually believe and accept all the teachings of the Church, we're down to 10-15 million.
SC: I saw numbers also when it comes to contraception that sixty-some percent of Catholic women have or do practice some form of artificial contraception.
BK: At some point in their life, yes. And that's true. It's widely known. It's a failure on the part of many within the Church, both within the body of the laity themselves to accept and understand the teachings as well as our priests and bishops who have failed to teach it over the last 40 or 50 years. It's really intrinsically a failure of catechesis. It's a wonderful teaching, it's an eminently defensible teaching, and it's something that we need to get back to. Until we do, we're going to keep failing on this issue. And it's really, maybe the Obama administration saw this rupture between the practice and the teachings, and said, "We can drive in a wedge here." It's a really cynical approach.
SC: I'm bringing this up because this is not an all encompassing position, the position that you, and Mark and Mark, and "For Life and Liberty," and many of us who believe in the unconstitutionality of this part of the ObamaCare mandate. I heard a priest in a homily just several weeks ago say, "We've heard that there is a war on. There's no war on the Church. People are making things up for their own political thing." There are priests and bishops out there who don't feel the way you do. There are people within the Church, we mentioned the ad, "Catholics for Contraception," there are people who want to see the Vatican say, "Well, OK, this is OK now." This is an uphill climb that you're taking here.
BK: It is an uphill climb, but it's something that has gone on since the very start of the Church. At one time, one Apostle betrayed the Lord, one denied Him, and 10 ran away. During the Reformation in England all the bishops except one betrayed the Church. We've lived through times of betrayal and times of refusal to believe the teachings of the Church since the beginning of the Church. This is nothing new. We shouldn't be surprised when people fail because life is difficult. It's not easy to accept all of the teachings of the Church. It's not an easy Faith. It requires real courage and strength to stand up and believe what we believe. And to not only believe it but to actually admit it and to actually defend it. We are living in a time when God is raising up saints and raising up courageous fighters for the culture wars, people that just are not going to back down, because this is true and it is eminently defensible.
The reason we have to have health care reform is because we have more elderly than we have young. We don't have enough people paying into the system. We have a demographic inversion where we have more old people than we have young people. You cannot prop up a social welfare program when you don't have people coming in at the base to pay into the system. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the reasons that neither party has the willpower to close our borders. They don't want to stop illegal immigration because they are hoping that the illegal immigrants will be naturalized and will start paying into the system and prop up this failing system. Ironically, right when we're desperately needing that - this ObamaCare reform increases spending astronomically - this is the first time since the Great Depression that more Mexicans are going back to Mexico than are coming into the United States.
SC: But there are many who would say that it's because of the economic situation right now in the United States, it's because we don't have jobs.
BK: That's the superficial explanation, that's part of it. But the other part of it is, even Mexico has a decreasing fertility rate. They're just not having as many people as they used to have, similar to the United States. Among western developed nations, only the United States and Israel have an above replacement fertility level. To have economic growth, you have to have kids. There's never been a case where you have expanding economic growth with a contracting population base. It's not economically possible. Orthodox economists will tell you, you have to have people to have growing economies. When you have a contracting population base, your economy always contracts. If you have a contracting economy the money you have to spend on social services contracts, so you have to start rationing care. You say to the Baby boomers, "Well, we're sorry, we don't have people coming into the system to prop up what we've promised you, we're going to take it away now. We don't have any choice."
So you get death panels, you get rationing, you get all these elements of ObamaCare that we fear.
SC: OK, you've just used terms that the opposition would take issue with, things like death panels and rationing and so on. I want to get into some of the specifics, especially with you being a doctor. I don't know whether you've actually read the 2700 page health care bill or not. I've looked at portions of it, summaries of it, we're finding new things all the time but I want to get into the health care thing with you and what it will mean to the average person, what it's going to mean to your patient. And from a Catholic Church perspective, I want to hone in specifically on the mandate to provide what they're calling women's health coverage.
Let's get into ObamaCare specifically. You're a doctor. There's a lot of stuff here that people don't know, they're not aware of, and there are changes that are happening right now as a result of ObamaCare even though the Supreme Court may hopefully rule its unconstitutionality come June.
BK: I think one of the first things you need to look at it is that it changes the whole concept of medical care and medical delivery. One of the concepts that people don't really realize is that it changes the idea of your primary care physician, how you access primary care and how the primary care physician controls...
SC: But I was told that I could keep my doctor.
BK: You can keep a doctor.
SC: No, he said that if I liked my doctor I could keep my doctor.
BK: Uh, that's propaganda, which is often employed to make something unpalatable palatable.
SC: You're saying there's a good chance I can't keep my primary care physician?
BK: The primary care physician might still be in the practice where you are seen for your primary care physician, but what will happen is that more and more primary care decisions will be made by lower level health care practitioners, nurse practitioners, physician assistants. You might have a group practice where there is one primary care physician that signs off on the actions or the orders of the other personnel in the practice, but the government is going to set up a matrix where you present to the office and they type into the system what your symptoms are and what your age is, and they can access your party affiliation because they have a big computer in the sky that keeps track of all this stuff, and they will decide what health care you need based on this matrix, this algorithm that the government health care has set up.
There is something called the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It's a non-elected board that determines what health care will be delivered to who, on the basis of age and health and so on. It's an unelected, unanswerable board. If you don't agree with the decision of this independent board, you can appeal, but it's like appealing to the IRS. The same people that run the IRS will be running your health care.
Everybody knows how difficult it was back when we had the primary care system with managed care, the gatekeeper and the whole frustration with referrals. It was very frustrating for us who work in the specialties just trying to get referrals when the patient would walk in the door and say, "Oh, I forgot to get my referral." So we had to call the primary care physicians office, they're overwhelmed with these requests, they don't want bothered. Its returning to the gatekeeper model, the worst aspects of managed care, where they're going to try to control access to specialists, to expensive tests.
SC: I want to get back to specifically some of the things we started talking about, the gatekeeper concept, the decision panels that will handle appeals...
BK: The "death panels."
SC: Yeah, they call them death panels. Whether or not you can actually get this treatment. Some faceless, nameless appointed bureaucratic group who are going to decide whether or not, because you are in your 70s or whatever, whether you are going to get this cancer treatment or hip replacement or whether you are going to get this particular treatment to take care of an issue with your foot.
BK: A perfect example is dialysis. They've been trying for years to reverse this trend with dialysis treatment for people past age 70 and more than likely under this system there will be a cap. Once you are a certain age you just aren't going to get dialysis. If you have kidney failure...
SC: Which means you die!
BK: ...you die. But they are so indignant when people call these panels "death panels" but the concrete reality...
SC: But that's what they're deciding!
BK: They're deciding life and death, yes.
SC: It's like, OK, I have this particular affliction, I need this drug or I need this therapy, to help me with this affliction. You're going to tell me whether or not I'm allowed to have this therapy.
BK: What they do is they use window dressing to call it something it's not. They say, "Well, its futile care, you're 78 years old, you're going to die anyways, its futile to keep doing dialysis for the next 5 years. There's other people that are younger than you, that voted a different party than you, that are more deserving of these health care dollars..."
SC: OK, we have the gate keeper concept, we have the death panels deciding what kind of care, what other little neat kind of surprises are there in the Affordable Health Care Act that we just absolutely don't know about and you as a physician who have been researching this are finding out?
BK: One of the biggest aspects of it is the sleight of hand they have been doing financially to pay for it. This is a trillion dollar law, the most expensive law ...
SC: Actually the estimate now is closer to three trillion. Let's face it, they're not going to take 550 billion dollars from Medicare.
BK: Sure they are!
SC: No they're not, they're not going to take it from that! You got to be kidding. Medicare is in trouble now, they're not going to take that money from Medicare and put it over here, they're just going to end up putting more money into the health care plan.
BK: Well this is true, but there is also going to be rationing care. The way you save money from Medicare is you ration care. If grandma has a stroke, you don't feed her, you just put her in the palliative care unit and give her a little morphine, and she'll slip away quietly. Obama said during his campaign, "We need to discourage people from pursuing that expensive end of life care and encourage them to go into the cost saving palliative care system." So he telegraphed, he told us what he planned on doing with his health care reform. There is 500 billion dollars in Medicare cuts in this plan. That's how he financed it. It costs a trillion initially? He did it by saying we're going to cut 500 billion from Medicare. And those things are not pie in the sky, they're real. This year cuts are being made to inpatient psychiatric hospitals, the Medicare advantage program, diagnostic imaging services, ambulance services.
SC: Now that's something that's going away at the end of this year, the Medicare advantage program.
BK: That's being eliminated.
SC: Right now. So those folks out there right now who have Medicare but also have a Medicare advantage program from Highmark or UPMC or United or whatever it might be to augment what they otherwise normally might not be covered for, that's going away. What are they going to do?
BK: They're scrambling, they're trying to find alternatives, they're going onto the other Medicare and Security Blue and UPMC. They're scrambling, and a lot of them don't know what to do. The people that can least afford these more expensive plans are really ending up with a degraded level of care. I have patients that are on a limited, fixed income. It used to be Medicare would pay for routine diabetic foot care 100% because Medicare recognized that doing preventive care prevented amputations, prevented complications. Now the HMOs have applied a specialist co pay for the routine visits. Whereas they never paid anything out of pocket in the past now they pay anywhere from a $20 to a $40 co pay every visit. If you're seen by multiple specialists and you're on a fixed income a $40 co pay is a big chunk of money when you have three physician visits a month. Those numbers add up quick.
SC: Especially when you're making a thousand dollars a month from Social Security and you got to buy food and pay your bills and pay your utilities and everything else, $20 is pretty significant.
BK: It's not a small amount of money for people on a fixed income. It's affecting our practice, our demographics are down, our practice load is down, because instead of coming every two months for routine care, they're coming every 3, 6, 9, 12 months, and we're seeing a lot more diabetic foot infections and ulcers because of the neglect. They're just not getting the care they should be getting.
SC: We went over aspects of how care is going to change, how managed care is going to be managed even more. Is this, in your mind, being a doctor, having studied this, is what we're seeing in ObamaCare a European model?
BK: Oh certainly it's a European model . It's truly full bore socialism. People have said, "Oh, you can't call Obama a socialist." Well, why not, when you're implementing policies that are purely socialistic in nature?
SC: Yeah, see, you guys are all sponsoring the ad, right there's your name, in fact you're at the top of the list with Mark and Mark and the rest of the guys, not only are you buying these ads saying "The Danger of ObamaCare," and explaining as best you can in the space provided the problems of this health care plan but, down here, in bold type, underlined, it says and I'm going to quote, "We must defeat President Obama in November."
You guys are being political!
BK: Darn right!
SC: You're not supposed to. No! "The Church isn't supposed to be political."
BK: We're not "Church." We're lay people. We're allowed to be political. We're allowed to come right out and say what they should be saying from the pulpit, which is, "You can't vote for a pro-abortion, pro-homosexual politician and show up for communion tomorrow morning."
I'm a firm believer in, if what it takes to preach the full Gospel is to give up your tax exempt status, then by gosh give up the tax exempt status, stand up and call a spade a spade. If that means we have to close every other church, I'll pay for the gas to drive to the next church, just to get our priests and our bishops and our cardinals to call a spade a spade. The days of compromising just to keep a tax exempt status should be over. We need courageous defiance. We need our leaders to stand up and say, "Enough is enough!" People's lives are at stake here.
SC: Tell me, honestly, and don't hold back, how big of a fan are you of [Cardinal] Tim Dolan?
BK: He's done a really good job but, you know, I'm more radical than he is.
SC: Let me tell you, understand, he's a cardinal, he is like the cardinal, the one who is looked upon in the United States, so I can't ever remember someone of that high a stature who...
BK: I can. Cardinal O'Connor. Cardinal O'Connor in the 1990s, when the Clinton administration was trying to coerce the Church to finance abortions, he stood up and he said, "JAIL ME! We're not going to do it! JAIL ME!"
SC: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but that was then, that was then, that was two decades ago.
BK: And we need it more than ever now.
SC: Things have changed so dramatically today, and all of a sudden there's Tim Dolan. I just think he is so cool.
BK: He's great. We have to recapture that militant witness.
SC: He's got fire and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops are showing some spine here for a change, aren't they.
BK: Praise God. Yes. Yes, we need that leadership, we need courageous leaders who are willing to stand up and say "Enough is enough."
SC: So as far as the health care plan itself goes it's in the hands of the US Supreme Court right now. They're going to decide a couple of things. First of all they're going to decide if the individual mandate, which means you got to buy it, you have to buy health insurance...
BK: Which is unconstitutional on its face. If the US government can coerce us to buy health insurance, they can coerce us to buy General Motors cars, which was bought out by the Obama administration.
SC: Again, we've got 9 people in black robes who are going to decide whether or not its constitutional.
SC: And I had a lawyer tell me one time, "I don't care how open and shut your case is, if you end up in a court room, you run the risk of losing." I don't care what people have read out of the questioning of the Supremes, I don't care if everybody is saying, "Well it looks like it's going to be 5 to 4, Kennedy is probably going to go with Roberts and Alito." I don't care. There is a chance that it could be found constitutional.
BK: That's why we're running these ads.
SC: Then, at that point, excuse my French, we are screwed. We're done.
BK: Yes. Yes. Then our last recourse is at the voting booth this November. And there is nothing wrong with coming right out and saying, "Anybody that voted for this monstrosity needs to be voted out. If you voted for ObamaCare, you do not deserve the vote of any thinking American."
SC: Is it that bad though? Is ObamaCare that bad?
BK: Certainly it is that bad. Socialism is that bad. Socialism sees the human person as a unit. They don't recognize the intrinsic value of a person made in the image and likeness of God. They see them as someone who contributes to the state coffers and insofar as you contribute, you get to receive. When you cease to contribute to the state coffers, you cease to receive benefits. It's a cost benefit analysis. It is utilitarian.
SC: But we've seen the Church come out openly and support other government programs that provide welfare to those who can't, they've supported all kinds of government programs.
BK: Yes, and just like they've failed to teach the Church's teachings, they've failed in supporting socialism. They should not be doing so. The concept of subsidiarity means that you do things at the local level. You don't have the federal government impose things from the top down. The Church has no business supporting socialistic agendas or laws. This is not something that should be done at the federal level. This is not a Church teaching. Socialism is not compatible with either Catholicism or American history and tradition.
SC: So you're saying if I'm a good Catholic, or if I'm a good Lutheran, or if I'm a good Episcopalian or whatever the case may be, it's my responsibility as being a good Christian, because we are all brothers in Christ, if I am a good Christian it is my obligation to provide for that poor person, to provide for that young girl who needs help, to provide for that family who needs help. It's my congregation, my parish, my group, it's our responsibility to provide for them, it's not the responsibility for us to give that responsibility to the government.
BK: The government has usurped that responsibility but it is not proper to the government. its proper to the people. The people should be taking care of each other.
SC: Do you think we can do it better?
BK: Certainly, we always did. The government didn't do it till 50 or 100 years ago. This idea that the government has to provide everything is a modern construct that does not comport with the history of this country or the history of the Christian people. Bishop Jenky was 100% right when he said the overpowering state is very jealous of its prerogatives. It doesn't like it when there is competition. It will let us worship on Sunday, but don't you dare take its prerogative to provide for the people because that is the state's role. And it is very jealous. And when you have a totalitarian government, they don't tolerate competition from the churches. They might let you worship on Sunday. They're not going to let you compete in the political realm.
SC: Ok, I want to talk about the HHS mandate. There was Kathleen Sebelius, and she said, "Oh by the way, you Catholics, you Catholic people, we're going to give you an extra year to sort of get your house in order, but you're going to have to provide contraception, sterilization, all these women's' health procedures that everybody else is going to have to provide." And then all hell sort of broke loose.
BK: Ain't gonna happen, Kathleen, ain't gonna happen! The bishop have a choice. They can either close down their institutions, they can either change them and make them secular...
SC: Show me one person, honestly, with all due respect, show me one person out there who actually thinks for a moment that you're going to see Catholic hospitals all across the country close down. That you're going to see Catholic charities that do literally billions of dollars worth of work, shut down.
BK: Why not?
SC: All just because their health care, they have to provide a certain thing in their health care. Do you honestly think for a moment that that would happen?
BK: I think eventually it could happen, it just depends on how strongly the administration wants to push. What has to happen is the bishops have to say, "We are not going to give in on this." They need to be courageous, they need to be defiant, they need to say in no uncertain terms, "No, we're not going to abide by your mandate. No, we're not going to close down our institutions. No, we're not going to pay your fines. Jail me."
SC: That would be a great video clip on Fox News, watching a couple of nuns and a couple of priests being walked off to prison in handcuffs.
BK: Not only that, not just nuns and priests, the laity need to show up and stand there and put a ring around these churches, these institutions, these schools, these hospitals, they need to stand in solidarity with their bishops and say, "We'll go to jail with you, bishop. Just lead us in this fight."
SC: People still don't understand, and again I'm trying to be as courteous as I can to the average person, people don't understand still what the main crux of this issue is. They think, and because the opposition has been very vocal, from the president to the HHS director to the news media to those of us in the Catholic Church who think that contraception is OK, we're trying to make this about contraception.
BK: It's not about contraception.
SC: It's not about contraception, it's about the government telling a religious group that they have to do something, they have to provide something, that is totally 100% opposed to the tenets of their faith.
BK: It really is intrinsically an attack on religion. It is an attack on faith.
SC: Then why are there priests out there saying, "There is no war on religion. There's no problem. We're making a mountain out of a mole hill?"
BK: Well, unfortunately, we have a generation of priests who weren't properly catechized. They don't realize the intrinsic evil of some of these things. Our Pope is trying to straighten that out. He has said, there are many life issues, there are many cultural issues that we need to talk about, but preeminent among those issues, over and above all those issues, is abortion and euthanasia and the defense of marriage. Those take precedent. They come above and beyond any other issue. Yes, you can be opposed to capital punishment, we should be, there are better ways of punishing the guilty, you can be opposed to unjust war, but, you must be opposed to abortion, to euthanasia, to a perversion of traditional marriage. And this seamless garment idea, that all these issues are equal, is an error that has permeated many of the people in our priesthood, many of our seminaries, and it needs to be rooted out, and I think our Holy Father is starting to do that.
SC: Where are we going from here? Obviously, there is a certain amount of treading water waiting for June to roll around and the Supremes and what they decide.
BK: My gut feeling is the Supremes are at a minimum going to strike down the mandate.
SC: If the mandate gets struck down then the whole thing falls like a house of cards though.
BK: Certainly it does, but that doesn't mean the rest of the law. They didn't put in a severability clause. They made it all or none.
SC: Well, they are going to decide on severability.
BK: Yes, but constitutionally if there is no severability clause the whole thing has to be struck down.
SC: But the Supreme Court will decide whether they can sever that particular thing from that.
BK: I think that is the only variable that we can't predict, whether or not they're going to strike down the mandate. The mandate is blatantly unconstitutional, they have to.
SC: Do you firmly believe that it's going to be 5 - 4, 6 - 3 maybe?
BK: I do. I think the only question is whether or not, when they strike down the mandate, they strike down the whole law. I think is the only question that remains. If they strike down the whole law we're still back at square one, health care is intrinsically broken.
SC: Everybody agrees with that. It would be nice to be able to start from scratch and start to build in a more logical, in a more realistic fashion, don't you think?
BK: Oh certainly.
SC: But will that happen, or will we just go back to what the status quo was?
BK: If we had a true conservative to vote for, it might happen. Full disclosure, I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, I'm an independent. I don't think either party represents my interests and my beliefs . Unfortunately, the GOP has put forward a candidate who wrote and passed the blueprint for ObamaCare. It's a very frustrating situation for social conservatives.
SC: But he did that at the state level.
BK: So socialism at the state level is OK, but socialism at the federal level is not?
SC: If you're a firm believer in the 10th Amendment I would say to a certain extent yes. Because of the whole states' rights issue. That is something that the people of Massachusetts, the people who vote for their legislators, if that's what they want, because of the 10th Amendment, because of states' rights, that's their prerogative. But if we in Pennsylvania want to have something different, that's our right and the biggest problem I have is the federal government stepping in and telling the state, you don't basically have any rights any more, we're making all of these decisions.
BK: And then passing unfunded mandates. You have to expand Medicaid to cover all these uninsured people but we're not going to give you the money to pay for it. Where is the money supposed to come from? That's the biggest problem in this.
SC: You know, the whole abortion question is and should be a states' rights issue.
BK: I disagree with that.
SC: That decision was based on this cloudy right to privacy. There's even some question as far as what is the right to privacy. That was the whole issue, you know, between the woman and her doctor, and mandating it federally. The reason that's bad law is because it was decided federally at a federal level. It's an issue that basically should be left to the states.
BK: But I think our constitution and our founding documents were very clear: "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Life is in the womb as well as outside the womb, birth is just a change of address.
SC: I'm saying the decision itself, if it was going to be made at all, should have been made at the state level. I'm very big on states' rights, and using the Commerce Clause to say you have to buy health insurance to me is an abomination and would make Madison and Adams and Washington and Jefferson roll over in their graves.
BK: Or to use any justification to say a church must do something that is diametrically opposed to her foundational beliefs.
SC: And we're trying to make these guys now, our founders, who to them God was everything, America was founded on this Divine Principle of our rights were given to us by God, and now to paint most of them as deists or whatever, it's not true. To say Thomas Jefferson was an atheist is an idiotic statement.
BK: It's also part of the agenda of the Socialists. By its very nature for the Socialist rights come from the state and can be taken by the state. In the American tradition rights come from God and are guaranteed or protected by the state. The two ideas are diametrically opposed. Socialism is diametrically opposed to our American founding and our American documents. Our rights don't come from the state, the state can't take our rights. Our rights are given by God and protected by the state. But you have to break down that understanding in order to impose upon the people a socialistic worldview.
SC: This is very, uh, the average person doesn't necessarily want to get into this kind of stuff.
BK: And they're not taught it in the schools either.
SC: The average person, and I've said this all along, and I don't mean this with any disrespect, but we have evolved as an American society from where we were to where we are now basically because we just want our stuff. Just give me my stuff.
BK: Bread and circuses.
SC: Yeah, ancient Rome, there you go.
BK: Yeah, we've been there, done that. We've seen where this goes. We can turn around, we can prevent the collapse, or we can follow down the path and watch what happens.
SC: OK this question comes to you from a person I've known for a long time. She, you talk about a conservative, would make you look like a flamer. That's all I'm going to say.
BK: Careful now!
SC: She says, "Steve, please ask Dr. Kopp about what he thinks of our own local dioceses' response to the HHS mandate. Other than signing a statement on this with other Pennsylvania bishops why is there silence on this in our own Catholic newspaper or anywhere?"
BK: Well, you had Bishop Mark here in the studio. He spoke to these issues. So he actually is taking an upfront role in addressing it. I think there is frustration in the pews when these issues are not addressed. I remember patients saying to me how frustrated they were in the 2008 election when one of their priests was saying from the pulpit that you need to vote for this guy or you're a racist. I don't know how a priest can stand in the pulpit and say to vote for a man who has a known voting record for being pro-abortion and pro-homosexual. This guy is the most radical liberal progressivist pro-abortion pro-homosexual politician who has ever occupied the White House, bar none. I don't know how in good conscience a priest can stand in the pulpit and say that kind of thing. It's very frustrating for those of us who consider us orthodox or pro-life Catholics, real Catholics, to hear this kind of stuff from the pulpit. And you can see how much it hurts the faithful, both from their words as well as their actions.
SC: It can be very confusing too because, as you said, let's face it, over the last few years, perhaps even the last couple generations, the catechesis emphasis just hasn't been there. And for those who do not take it upon themselves to study Church teachings, to read the scriptures regularly, it can be so confusing when you're getting these mixed messages and you're not up on your faith as much as you should be. Isn't there a tendency to just go, "Oh, the heck with it, I'm just going to go to Mass on Sunday, I'll have communion, and I'll go and I'm not going to worry about this stuff. And I'm not going to get involved, because it just makes my head hurt."
BK: It's certainly a tendency, yes. But we're living in an age when you can't do that anymore. Catholics need to stand up. They need to educate themselves in real Catholicism, not the watered down spirit of whatever it is that we've been taught for the last 40 years. There's hope for the future. We see really good things happening. We have a good bishop who really is going to stand up and do what's right. I know that, I've talked to him personally, he's a good man, he understands the issues. He might do things diplomatically quietly behind the scenes but he's doing them.
SC: He does seem a really laid back kind of guy. I talked to him. He doesn't appear to be like you or me, in that he's not in your face.
BK: All of us have a different role to play.
SC: He's not in your face.
BK: That's OK, as long as he's orthodox I don't care if he's in my face or not. We live in a time where there is a resurgence of orthodoxy. The people are learning the Faith. We have a Holy Father who is personally reviewing every single candidate for bishop before they are appointed bishop. He goes through every dossier that goes to Rome. He is making sure that the guys that are put in positions of leadership know the Faith and are going to teach the Faith. We have a lot of hope. There is a popular priest blogger on the internet who says we have to rely on the "biological solution." The old liberals don't reproduce. They're dying out. They're being replaced by good orthodox conservative Catholics.
SC: That is an interesting philosophy that I have not heard.
BK: It's the biological solution. Liberalism is infecund by its very nature. It doesn't reproduce. God is the author of life. Liberalism isn't fertile.
SC: Alright, the Supreme Court rules in June, 5-4, 6-3, whatever, that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
BK: Then we're back at stage one. We still have the best health care in the world. Everyone comes here for the best health care.
SC: But what do we do?
BK: The first thing we do is we stop this out of control tort system which is forcing doctors to practice defensive medicine, order every test in the book, order every consult in the book, because they're afraid of getting sued.
SC: But that genie is already out of the bottle. How do you put that back in the bottle again.
BK: Do we want to reform the system or not? If we do not reform the tort system, the system is broke and cannot be fixed. Because that is the primary cause of the skyrocketing health care costs. We're afraid of being sued. Every day we're afraid of being blamed for something that we had no way of knowing was going to happen. If I was an auto mechanic, and I changed your alternator, and I put the wrong alternator on, you wouldn't sue me, I would just go back and put the right alternator on. If you're a doctor and you do the wrong thing...
SC: You can't do that though as a doctor, because if you do the wrong thing, somebody ends up dead.
BK: Let's face it, doctors are no different than mechanics, we're highly trained technicians. We do the best we can do. But we're still human.
SC: But there's a big difference between replacing my alternator and losing my arm.
BK: I agree. And the guys who consistently make you lose your arm, they should be out of the system. They shouldn't be protected. If there is true malpractice going on, there should be mechanisms for getting rid of those bad eggs. They should not be in the system.
SC: But you've got the fox guarding the hen house in the AMA and how the whole appeals process...
BK: I'm not a big fan of the AMA, so I'm not going to defend that.
SC: There's so much, we could sit here for the next several hours and point our fingers at health care things.
BK: You know one thing we could do tomorrow? Do what England does. If you bring a frivolous lawsuit against somebody and you lose, you pay their defense.
SC: I've always been a big fan of that.
BK: Another thing you can do is make a system that actually has incentive for the people to control their health care costs and that reintroduces competition into the health care system. Provide catastrophic health care coverage for everybody, but make everyone pay 10% out of pocket every year. If you make $100,000 per year, you have to pay $10,000 out of pocket before the catastrophic federal coverage kicks in. With that first $10,000 you can put it into a savings account. At the end of the year, you can roll it into your 401k. In the meantime, get the hospitals and the doctors competing for the out of pocket expenses.
SC: Gotcha. Understand. Make the markets work.
BK: Make the markets work. There are free market mechanisms to control the costs.
SC: Do you believe there is a will there, on the part of legislators and the public? That's going to be tough stuff to make happen.
BK: As a friend of mine says, I'm not an optimist, I'm not a pessimist, I'm a realist. When people are addicted to entitlements, it's very hard to break the addiction. When people have a mentality that they're owed everything and that they don't have to work for it, it's very hard to get them out of that mentality. A lot of times a system has to collapse before you can rebuild a more equitable system. And I'm a cynic. I don't know how this system is not going to collapse.
SC: Oh my gosh, I've got to tell you, this has been one of the most fun days that I've had in a long long long time, because I've found a kindred spirit here today, Dr. Brian Kopp. I can't tell you how much fun I've had.
BK: Quickest two hours I've spent in a long time.
SC: I'm sure there's a bunch of stuff we could find that we disagree about, philosophically, ideology, maybe even theologically, I don't know. But I'm with you, the effort by Mark and Mark, we're with you. This is something honestly that regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, I don't want to see a grassroots effort like this in the Church in this area, I don't want to see it go away. I want to see it build.
BK: I don't think it will.
SC: I want to see us sort of gather in more of the flock, and have these kinds of discussions, and have educational meetings, and seminars, and things whereby we can all become not just better Catholics but better people.
BK: This is what the Tea Party should have been. The Tea Party lost its spiritual foundation. There were too many disparate segments.
SC: Well, they wanted power. They wanted to get this person elected or that person elected or whatever, it became a power thing rather than, hear is our goal.
BK: And it's amazing how persecution unifies. Glenn Beck said it best, "We're all Catholics now." I'm seeing more openings among our Evangelical and Fundamental Christian brothers.
SC: Imagine that, coming from a Mormon, for crying out loud, but it's true. Because once it happens to one, then it happens to another, then it happens to another, and before you know it, that's what happened in Germany, that's what happened in Italy, in the Soviet Union. I don't want to see that happen here.
BK: I don't either, and I kind of think this campaign, this election season is a test. We can either pass it or fail it. It's a final chance. A lot of times in the Old Testament, God used the enemies of Israel to test and to discipline Israel, and when they failed the test, things were ugly for Israel. When they passed the test, blessings flowed, and I think we're living in a time where we have a test, and we have to rise to the occasion.
SC: There are those who are out there listening saying, that's all well and good. But just let my stuff alone, let me have my stuff, let me go to church, let me worship the way I want, let me go about my life the way I want to go about it, and let me alone.
BK: When governments start down this path, they don't let you alone. It's a false concept that they're going to let us alone. They're not going to let us alone, they're going to etch and eat away at our rights and our freedoms. From this point forward, it just gets ugly if we don't stand up and fight.
SC: Well said, well said. Thank you so much for coming in today. I really appreciate it and I hope maybe I can get you back some time.
BK: I would love to come back.
SC: There's so much we can do, I think.
BK: Let's do it.
SC: I'm excited. You've got me fired up buddy. Again, my thanks to Dr. Brian Kopp.