U.S. Bishop Chairmen Urge Congress Toward Bipartisan Reform on Key Health Care Issues

March 31, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—After the U.S. House of Representativeswithdrew the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on March 24 2017, Cardinal TimothyM. Dolan of New York, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, and Bishop FrankJ. Dewane of Venice, Florida urged members of Congress to "seize this moment tocreate a new spirit of bipartisanship" and make necessary reforms on access,affordability, life and conscience.

In a March 30 letter to Congress, the U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops chairmen noted that the AHCA "contained serious deficiencies,particularly in its changes to Medicaid, that would have impacted the poor andothers most in need in unacceptable ways," but emphasized that withdrawal ofthe bill "must not end our nation's efforts to improve health care."

CardinalDolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, ArchbishopLori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Dewaneheads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

"[T]he AHCA did provide critical life protections for theunborn," the Bishops said. "Byrestricting federal funding for abortion, its providers, and the purchase ofplans that cover it, the bill would have finally resolved a grave moral failingrooted within the very structure of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)." The need for conscience protections for thosewho participate in the delivery or coverage of health care services, problemslike rising costs and premiums, as well as impediments to immigrant access remainto be addressed, according to the chairmen.

"Lawmakers still have a duty to confront thesesignificant challenges. While a comprehensive approach is preferable, some ofthe problems can be fixed with more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisanway. Congress can pass the ConscienceProtection Act, extend full 'Hyde Amendment' protections to the ACA, and enactother targeted laws that begin to remove current and impending health carebarriers, if a more extensive effort is not possible," the letter urges.

The full letter to Congress can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/joint-letter-to-congress-re-health-care-2017-03-30.cfm.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB,Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop William E. Loriof Baltimore, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, AmericanHealth Care Act (AHCA), respect for life, human dignity, health care,affordability, abortion, poverty

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MEDIA CONTACT: Norma Montenegro Flynn202-541-3200