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Tuesday 20 April |

Bishops, Catholic Health Association raise concerns over new health care bill, call for following ‘moral criteria’

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/09/17

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Influential groups representing hospitals and nurses came out on Wednesday against the Republican bill, joining doctors and AARP, the association of middle-aged and older Americans, to warn that it would lead to a rise in the uninsured.

In a letter to lawmakers, major hospital groups wrote, “As organizations that take care of every individual who walks through our doors, both due to our mission and our obligations under federal law, we are committed to ensuring health care coverage is available and affordable for all.”

The groups, including the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association of the United States and the Children’s Hospital Association, said they could not support the bill “as currently written.”

The hospitals and the American Nurses Association joined the American Medical Association and AARP, which rejected the bill on Tuesday.

The Catholic Health Association noted on Tuesday:

The ACA is not a perfect law, and we have always said it should be improved where necessary. This new plan does not improve the law—instead, it undermines it and leaves behind millions of people who have obtained meaningful, affordable insurance that was not possible before the ACA.

We strongly encourage the full House to reject this ‘replacement’ bill and work to craft legislation that addresses the real issues without creating unneeded chaos in the system and coverage loss for those who need health care.

While there are many opportunities to improve both the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid program by creating greater flexibility for state innovation, we believe this proposal will simply erode the safety net and jeopardize the health and economic safety of millions of Americans.

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops released their own statement in a letter to Congress:

As Congress prepares to discuss possible changes to the Affordable Care Act, the chairmen of four United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees called on lawmakers to consider important moral criteria, especially pertaining to the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn and those experiencing deep poverty. The Bishops of the United States have consistently advocated for a health care system in which—as the late Cardinal Francis George used to say—everyone should be cared for and no one should be deliberately killed.
In a letter from March 8, 2017, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, urged Congress: to respect life by preventing the use of federal funds to facilitate abortion or purchase health care plans that provide abortion; to honor conscience rights; and to ensure access for all people to comprehensive, quality health care that is truly affordable.


The Bishops called on Congress to ensure coverage for those who now rely upon it after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and expressed concern about any structural changes to the social safety net that could impact access to health care for millions. Noting that the Catholic Church “provides health care, purchases health care and helps to pick up the pieces for those who fall through the cracks of the health care system when it fails,” the bishops urged “a new spirit of cooperation for the sake of the common good” on this vital concern during the debates ahead.
You can read the full letter here. 
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