Fighting for Religious Freedom in Medicine
Chris Faddis, President of Solidarity HealthShare, went on Wake Up! Tucson with Chris DeSimone to discuss the challenges faced by religious healthcare groups under the Biden administration. They are dealing with attacks on their religious freedom in medicine on a regular basis. Chris highlights an incident where a hospital in Oklahoma was threatened with losing its Medicare designation due to having a sanctuary candle in their chapel. Check out the conversation about this, as well as a few other topics highlighting the religious freedom issues we are facing in the medical industry in our country.
Read the Transcribed Conversation
Chris DeSimone (00:00):
Let’s go to Chris Faddis, President of Solidarity HealthShare. Chris, what’s going on?
Chris Faddis (00:04):
Hey, Chris, good to talk to you.
Chris DeSimone (00:06):
Where’s Brad? I mean, I always love talking to you. How’s Brad doing? I haven’t talked to him in a while. What’s he up to?
Chris Faddis (00:11):
Doing well. He’s, yeah, he’s doing well. He’s had some challenges with his health this last year, so he is taking a little extra time, but he is doing okay.
Chris DeSimone (00:18):
Right. I gotta call him. I haven’t talked to him in such a long time.
Chris Faddis (00:22):
Yeah, you’ll have to catch up. He’s, he’s on the mend finally.
Chris DeSimone (00:25):
That’s good. Awesome. You’re wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you’re not wonderful.
Chris Faddis (00:29):
<laugh>. No worries.
HHS Threatens Catholic Hospital
Chris DeSimone (00:31):
Um, so I saw your piece in Fox News about Biden’s war on people of faith, evident with new attacks on religious healthcare groups. So now health sharing was uh, was part of a carveout for the original Obamacare, which I believe this senile man was part of that administration in those days. What’s changed now?
Chris Faddis (00:56):
You know, they just continue, this administration just continues to make threats and attacks and continues to push the envelope on what they can do in terms of violating religious protection. And, you know, the most recent, Chris, is this situation in a hospital in Oklahoma where a third party accreditation group came in and said, ‘Hey, your sanctuary candle is a threat, you know, to safety because it’s in the same hospital as oxygen’. And it’s a third party organization. But the Biden administration, through HHS, doubled down on it and essentially threatened to take away their CMS – their Medicare designation – which would mean the hospital would lose, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars. They wouldn’t be able to serve the 400,000 patients they served. 11,000 people would lose their jobs all over a stinking sanctuary candle that was nowhere near oxygen tanks.
Chris Faddis (01:53):
You can’t even make it up. It’s just, it’s unreal. And, you know, and then they, of course, walked it back once people noticed, but it’s like, this is a continued infringement on rights over and over again. They just keep doing it. They just, somebody will walk it back and then they come back and they do it again.
Chris DeSimone (02:11):
The idea that they would go into the chapel of a place called St. Francis <laugh> and there’s a candle…
Chris Faddis (02:23):
The St. Francis sisters. Yeah. It’s just unreal. It’s unreal. You know, and you think about what an impact you, this system. It’s not like, ‘Oh, we want our rights’. And, you know, these people aren’t just trying to do something for themselves. They’re serving 400,000 people in Oklahoma. They employ 11,000 doctors, nurses, janitors, everything else, right? This is, this is real stuff. We need these people to serve the patients. They’re serving the poor, they’re doing all these things, and you’re gonna attack them over what’s in their chapel.
Little Sisters of the Poor
Chris DeSimone (02:56):
So then the other one you brought up in your piece on Fox News – we’re talking to Chris Faddis at Solidarity HealthShare.org. It was the piece talking about the Little Sisters of the Poor, right? And basically how they refused to violate church teachings because providing abortion, and their health insurance plan. How did that play out in the end?
Chris Faddis (03:17):
Well, you know, it played out in court over and over again. They walked it back, it went away, then they went back to court. I mean, it’s just continued to be an issue. I think there’s another case now with the Little Sisters as well, for some reason. They’ve just, you know, they put them in their crosshairs. But if you remember Chris, when the Affordable Care Act came out, when they finally came out with all the regulations around it, the HHS said contraceptives and sterilizations and abortion, all these things had to be part of the [insurance] plans.
Well, they didn’t make any carve-outs for religious sisters who certainly should not be paying for those things, nor did they access those services. But essentially with the the Obama administration, and I think Biden is on the same page here, their mindset has been, ‘if you serve other people, if you have other people in your organization, then you have to do these things’. And so they’ve just continued to battering ram attack these groups, you know, and the Little Sisters, I think overall that ended well. But the amount of court battles they had to fight just to get to that place, it’s absurd. It’s absurd. And we should not have to prove our rights to religious freedom in this country.
Chris DeSimone (04:23):
It’s so interesting. You know, you get your social media anniversary, like this happened so many years ago, and I got a political cartoon from two or three years ago, and it’s Biden doing the slim picking things of writing the bomb from Dr. Strangelove. And the bomb says ‘Obama’s third term’, right? And now, literally two and a half years later, we’re having this discussion about Obama’s third term. Yeah. And I, I feel like in relation to this attack on people of faith, I guess the question is, are people of faith easy to pick on ’cause they don’t fight back?
Chris Faddis (05:02):
Well, it does seem that way. It seems like we allowed a lot of this to happen. You even think about the HHS mandate – you know, we fought back at first, and everyone was loud at first, but in the end we ultimately just complied. And, you know, a large majority of Americans, faith-based doctors, hospitals – they all just complied. They just did what they needed to do, you know? And I think, you know, COVID actually woke a lot of them up. A lot of people started to realize, when they started really pinching down on people’s rights with COVID, I think a lot of people woke up and recognized that. But yeah, we tend to just sort of lay down and let lie and walk away. And the reality is they know that. So they just keep pushing a little further.
Chris Faddis (05:41):
I mean, you know, section 1557 is one of the rules in the Affordable Care Act. You know, we knew back then that the Obama administration’s ultimate goal was to add in transgenderism and abortions and all these things into protected practice under this, you know, this discrimination, [in these] rules. And now what are we seeing? The Biden administration is now pushing to push that envelope again and actually enforce gender procedures and all those things. And so now you’re gonna have another attack on religious hospitals and physicians and things who will have to choose whether or not to practice medicine.
Chris DeSimone (06:17):
So where, what’s the battle at? ‘Cause now all of a sudden in the last, it seems like the last – probably since New Year’s – we’ve never talked about transgenderism so much; [more than] I’ve ever seen in my life. So, I assume, they’re going after Catholic hospitals on transgender surgeries.
Chris Faddis (06:34):
Yeah, they will, once they publish this rule, they still published the rule, uh, four section 1557, expanding it to gender and abortions and all these other things. But they then have like a comment period, and then they do the final ruling. They still haven’t pulled off the final rule. So we’re waiting on that. For some reason, they keep holding it. And I’m guessing they haven’t quite gotten their public opinion where they want it. I don’t know.
But at the end of the day, um, once that rule comes in, that’s where the enforcement will start to happen. And so, you know, we’re pushing back. I think a lot of folks – there’s a few lawsuits already in play. But they’re narrow, you know, so they’re not gonna protect everyone. And so, we’re just kind of waiting to see, but that is really where the next battle is. You imagine all of the faith-based healthcare systems and physicians out there being enforced with this new rule.
Chris DeSimone (07:24):
So what about, uh, when you hear the name of a hospital that has the word ‘saint’ in it, but it may not be run by the Church anymore. Like, I think of Carondelet Health down here – which is St. Mary’s, St. Joe’s – and they do have a chapel with those killer candles in them. But a lot of these have been kind of taken over by secular companies, right?
Chris Faddis (07:45):
Yeah. And I think that, in some ways, I think some of these systems have chosen to go that route. You know, whether it’s secular companies or a more secularized board of advisors or, board to run it, that’s happening a lot. And we’re even with the Dignity Health up here, which used to be the Mercy Health system, you know, that has really become more secularized. So you still hear some prayers and things in the hospital, but ultimately <laugh>, they’ve let that go. And I think that’s what’s gonna happen with a lot of them. <laugh>.
Chris DeSimone (08:20):
Well, it just seems like there’s gonna be more and more consolidation of hospital groups, right?
Chris Faddis (08:26):
Right, right. You know, and that’s of course what Obamacare was all about really. Right? I mean, when you really look at it and look at what’s happened over the last 10 years, the one success was the overall consolidation of all of these systems. And it’s become pretty clear that that was the overall goal. And of course, costs have risen, like we all said [they] would, because of that.
Chris Faddis (08:50):
We’ve had this discussion with Congressman Schweikert multiple times over the last so many years, right? Obamacare was for hospital systems, right? They’re the number one beneficiary of what went on there, right? You and I have had this discussion. Brad’s had this discussion. Uh, the Affordable Care Act overall has not made healthcare affordable, right? And then at the same time, if you look at what happened during COVID, the number one beneficiaries – other than the pharmaceutical companies – a top beneficiary that also helped lockdown and supported lockdowns and ruin a lot of people’s lives were the hospital systems. They are, to me, one of the number one villains in healthcare right now for the last 15 years.
Chris Faddis (09:34):
Yeah. It’s pretty amazing what we allowed them to do. And ultimately, you know, shut off care for lots of people that needed care at the time and collected a lot of money from the government. And what did we get out of it? I don’t know that we got a well-managed pandemic, I can tell you that.
Chris DeSimone (09:50):
Oh, what’s the opposite of [a] well-managed pandemic, right?
Chris Faddis (09:54):
Chris DeSimone (09:55):
That’s what we got.
Chris Faddis (09:56):
Think it starts with ‘cluster-‘.
Chris DeSimone (09:57):
Thank you. All right, hold that thought. I want to continue this conversation when we come back. We’re talking to Chris Faddis, President of Solidarity HealthShare. If you have a question go to solidarityhealthshare.org and find out how you can pay for your health costs in a moral way, but better way. And also do this thing called, increas[ing] your, uh, positive cash flow.
Chris DeSimone (10:40):
Let’s get back to [the] President of Solidarity HealthShare. His name is Chris Faddis. Chris, welcome back sir.
Chris Faddis (11:19):
Hey, good to be on again.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers
Chris DeSimone (11:21):
We just had, uh, we just had [Congressman] Andy Biggs on, uh, about an hour and a half ago, and we were talking about, I’ll throw this at you – he had a good rant at a hearing about pharmacy benefit managers. Do you know what a pharmacy benefit manager is?
Chris Faddis (11:43):
I sure do. <laugh>.
Chris DeSimone (11:45):
So he went on a rant about how much money is being lost on spending on the middle man. He said, ‘middle person’. And he said, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been in DC too long’, alright – the middle man, making that much money. So tell [me] what, what’s your experience with pharmacy benefit managers, because you guys are doing this with your Solidarity folks.
Chris Faddis (12:08):
Yeah, yeah. You know, you’re dealing with – you know, people always want to talk about who’s taking the money in the prescription world, right? And of course, manufacturers are certainly to blame, especially the name brand, you know, and all the patents and all of those things. That’s a massive part of the issue. But really, the area where the most money is gained, and really kind of not transparent – it just truly is not transparent – is what they call pharmacy benefits managers. They’re basically like a network. They create their own kind of pricing structures and models and then go sell ’em out to insurance companies, you know, and they might have certain fees disclosed and they might get a percentage of different things, but ultimately the part [that] they don’t disclose, [is that] a majority of them have these rebates they’re getting from the manufacturer.
Chris Faddis (12:56):
So they design these programs to get as many of these name brand drugs into the formulary for that plan. They drive the prescription costs up for the plan, and then they are benefiting from a massive amount of rebate that nobody knows [about]. It’s not disclosed. So, you know, there’s lots of small players, but the biggest ones are like CVS, Caremark, and you know, all of these big corporations that are making estimated, potentially hundreds of millions – if not trillions, billions – of dollars that nobody knows about this kind of rebate program that they get. And so you’re sitting there going, why do my prescription costs keep going up? Why does my health plan keep going up? And it’s because of these guys who are kind of raking the coals in the middle and you don’t even know about it.
Chris DeSimone (13:41):
So I asked Andy one of my favorite questions, ’cause we were talking about pharmacy benefit managers: Good Rx, right? <laugh>. So I walk in, it’s $212 ’cause I don’t have any insurance, but I just show ’em an app. I mean I don’t even have my name on the app. It’s not like I’m registered ’cause I’ve heard some people say they’re collecting data on me. That’s how they’re doing it for free. I mean I just have the app and I just show the lady, ‘Oh look it’s $12’. She goes, ‘Oh, okay’.
Chris Faddis (14:09):
Right – all of a sudden. And you know, that’s the thing, what we do, Chris, and actually I’m gonna say, you obviously need some re-education as a Solidarity Member ’cause you now have a better program than Good Rx.
Chris DeSimone (14:20):
No, it’s true.
Chris Faddis (14:22):
<laugh> We’ll talk about this. But, but ultimately, we work with a company that’s actually a transparent pharmacy benefits manager. And the way that works is that every one of those prescriptions that our Members use our card for, we might get a rebate on and that rebate comes directly back to the Members and goes right back into the Sharing.
And that’s what some of these small groups that are doing – these transparent benefits – it’s great because it actually benefits the plan, it benefits the program. If you need to use name brand drugs and you’re gonna get these rebates, then it should be to the benefit of the individual Member or to the program that they’re on, right? And that’s the beauty. But you’ll find with our program that that Solidarity’s doing, we actually price better than Good Rx and you don’t have to give up your data to third parties, like you said.
Chris Faddis (15:08):
So the reality is, there are solutions out there. These third parties don’t seem to want to offer them, obviously, ’cause they have a business plan that relies on those rebates. But when you find the right programs, you can actually save a lot of money. And, you know, last year our Members, in our first year with this new program we rolled out, it was over 77% savings just on the prescriptions. And for that, even in our small group, our Members achieved $85,000 in rebates. That goes right back to Sharing.
Chris DeSimone (15:38):
Like I said, I’m not saying I was using GoodRx – I haven’t used GoodRx in a while. It’s just that dynamic, right? So don’t feel bad. Andy said that no one could answer [that question] at the congressional hearing, either.
Chris Faddis (15:51):
Yeah, I wish they would ask me though. They’ve had several. One thing that I like is they’ve had several congressional hearings in the last few weeks on price transparency and it’s been great to see. I’m glad that your listeners got to hear the public shaming of Chris DeSimone for not using his Solidarity Membership rate, by the way. But we won’t do a hearing, we don’t need to do a congressional hearing on that. We’ll just, we’ll talk after the show.
Chris DeSimone (16:12):
That’s all right. I’m being constantly publicly shamed. It’s not a problem. <laugh> So let’s get back to the advocacy for your Catholic Members of Solidarity, right? Talk about the advocacy of what you and the team do for your Members in relation to not just the ravages of crazy, unpredictable high pricing, but also the moral side of it.
Chris Faddis (16:41):
Yeah, and just to be clear, obviously we welcome people of all faiths in the Ministry and we do it in a Catholic context, right? So we’re always gonna protect your morals when it comes to the life issues and those values, and make sure that you’re not paying for those things for other folks. But also, you know, [we] help make sure that doctors aren’t steering you [or your family members] in the wrong direction. So that’s an important piece.
There’s lots of ethical issues in healthcare. We feel that being in the position we are, we’re able to stand in the way of those, and help Members and lead them on the right path to the things that we can share into. And then you don’t have to worry about paying for these [unethical] things in your health program, like transgender surgeries and abortion drugs and all these things. So Solidarity is there to do that. We share our medical bills. Chris is a faithful Member. I think you’ve been a Member for, what, four or five years now, right Chris?
Chris DeSimone (17:35):
At least a few. Four. Four sounds right.
Chris Faddis (17:37):
Yeah, it was before ‘Rona. That’s right. So, Members can share each other’s medical bills and then know that they’re being protected from those things. And like I said, [Solidarity is] the first healthshare to offer a pharmacy sharing program that is transparent and that the rebates go back to the Members. So that’s an exciting thing. And we’ll just continue fighting this fight. And let me tell you, Chris, if this Obamacare rule, section 1557, does go into effect – we’re still kind of analyzing all the effects of the rule – but it appears that there’ll be very few health plans that won’t be affected by that rule. So health sharing may be the only option for folks to make sure they’re not paying for those kind of procedures.
Chris DeSimone (18:21):
Amen. All right. Well, Chris, keep up the good work. As always, always enjoy our conversations and again, I keep saying it: next time I’m up to Phoenix, I’ll give you a holler and we’ll uh, go break bread someplace. Okay?
Chris Faddis (18:31):
Let’s do it. All right. God bless
Chris DeSimone (18:32):
You too, my friend. Chris Faddis of solidarityhealthshare.org.
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