Based on an analysis provided by the Congressional Budget Office that Senate Repubilcans’ health care bill would leave at least 22 million more people uninsured, Catholic Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Florida said in a statement, "This moment cannot pass without comment." Dewane, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, declared "Today, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the 'discussion draft' of the Senate health care proposal, indicating that millions of people could lose their health insurance over time," he said in a statement issued in response to the just-released analysis.” The study was released on June 26.

"As the USCCB has consistently said, the loss of affordable access for millions of people is simply unacceptable," Dewane said. "These are real families who need and deserve health care." Dewane added, "We pray that the Senate will work in an open and unified way to keep the good aspects of current health care proposals, to add missing elements where needed, and to not place our sisters and brothers who struggle every day into so great a peril on so basic a right."

The GOP proposal, titled Better Care Reconciliation Act, was criticized also by Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. She urged senators to reject the bill. Her letter called on them to "craft a health care bill which truly expands coverage, reduces costs and respect human life and dignity." She wrote that the bill "will have a devastating impact on the poor, marginalized and vulnerable in our country." While she welcomed provisions in the bill that protect human life, she wrote that "a bill that rolls back gains in health care for the poor and vulnerable is deeply regretful." She added, "It is deeply shameful that instead of improving our health care system, the bill provides tax cuts for people making over $200,000 per year while at the same time demanding dramatic cuts or eliminating programs which help those most in need and most unlikely to afford health care."

On June 22, which was the day Republicans released their bill, Bishop released a statement saying that the Senate’s legislation contains "many of the fundamental defects" that appeared in the House-passed American Health Care Act "and even further compounds them." He wrote, "As is, the discussion draft stands to cause disturbing damage to the human beings served by the social safety net." 

Bishop Dewane wrote, "It is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written." He indicated that bill partially succeeds on civil rights by "fully applying the long-standing and widely supported Hyde Amendment protections. Full Hyde protections are essential and must be included in the final bill." The Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions, except in those cases of rape or incest, or where a physical condition endangers a woman's life unless an abortion is performed. The Catholic bishop’s letter of June 22 also “stressed the need to improve real access for immigrants in health care policy, and this bill does not move the nation toward this goal." 
 

 



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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