Families must have the option of purchasing health care plans that respect their freedom of conscience, Ruppersberger insisted.
"This will serve the principle of subsidiarity, confirming right and the ability of the worker to dispose of his or her wages to serve his or her own basic needs and that of their families while mitigating barriers that interfere with the physician-patient relationship," he added.
The next presidential administration and the next Congress will probably make interpretations of religious freedom law that could affect the health care system in decisive fashion, Louis Brown of the Christ Medicus Foundation said.
"We are losing our religious freedom, particularly within our culture of health care, within the industry of health care, at amazing speed," Brown said.
In addition to the next president nominating at least one Supreme Court justice – and the effect that could have on religious freedom jurisprudence – Congress could re-define the Weldon Amendment, which historically protected the religious freedom of health care institutions.
Regarding the amendment, the current head of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services has already said that pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in California are not protected under the amendment from having to tell patients about their abortion options.
Congress might also vote on the Conscience Protection Act "which would codify much of the need to protect religious freedom in health care, the right of conscience," Brown added.
However, the next presidential administration will make some crucial decisions, he said, since the precedent has already been set that "a lot of these things can be done or undone without Congressional action." An example of this would be the transgender mandate from the Obama administration, mandating that doctors perform gender-transition services when requested, even if they believe such procedures would be harmful to patients.
Thus, health care alternatives must exist to allow families the freedom to obtain health care on their own terms, the panel insisted.
Such care would consist of smaller providers like health sharing ministries, direct primary care practices, and even experiments in insurance through dioceses and a national Catholic health plan.
Such "smaller" providers are actually what many people are looking for, Brown insisted, noting that there are over an estimated 10,000 direct primary care practices around the country.
(Story continues below)
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Brown, who represents the Christian health-sharing ministry CMF CURO, explained that "health sharing is very similar" to and can be "particularly effective" for low-income households, as the average premiums for healthy families in the ministry can be much lower than in employer-provided or exchange plans.
"This trend towards localism" and "towards community" is actually what young people want, he noted, pointing to a revival in urban neighborhoods where younger residents want the ability to walk to stores, bars, and churches. Local primary care practices and health-sharing ministries could provide this, he added.
"The message is that there's another way, and it's a better way," he said. "We have a little bit of a holy revolution in health care going on here."