U.S. bishop chair urges House members to "insist on changes" to proposed health care bill

Thu, Apr 27th 2017 04:00 pm
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON, DC - As the U.S. House of Representatives appears poised to vote on the American Health Care Act (HB 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, stressed that remaining flaws in the bill will harm poor and vulnerable people and called on members to insist upon changes.

"It is deeply disappointing to many Americans that, in modifying the American Health Care Act to again attempt a vote, proponents of the bill left in place its serious flaws, including unacceptable modifications to Medicaid that will endanger coverage and affordability for millions of people, according to reports," said Bishop Dewane.  "Sadly, some of the recently proposed amendments—especially those designed to give states flexibility—lack apparent safeguards to ensure quality of care. These additions could severely impact many people with pre-existing conditions while risking for others the loss of access to various essential coverages."

In an earlier letter sent to Representatives on March 17, Bishop Dewane had urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to correct provisions that would place a per capita cap on Medicaid funding to states, as well as to ensure adequate, quality coverage for those who are part of the recent Medicaid expansion, among other things.  Bishop Dewane also called for conscience protections for those who participate in the delivery or coverage of health care services and against mandates like the contraception and sterilization regulatory requirement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The American Health Care Act includes some praiseworthy features, among them restricting funding which flows to abortion providers and prohibiting federal funding for abortion or the purchase of plans that cover it," noted Bishop Dewane.  "But the AHCA, as it now stands, creates new and grave challenges for poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants.  The House must not pass the legislation as it is.  Members should insist on changes, especially for the sake of those who are struggling in our communities."   

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