U.S. Bishops Chairman Commends Life Protections in AHCA, Expresses Concerns About Harmful Provisions That Will Impact the Poor

March 20, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—In a letter sent to the U.S. House ofRepresentatives, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida notes that, whilethe recently introduced American Health Care Act (AHCA) commendably containskey provisions in defense of life, the proposed legislation also creates "gravechallenges for poor and vulnerable people that must be addressed" by Congressbefore passage.

In the letter sent to representatives on March 17, 2017,Bishop Dewane, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice andHuman Development, highlighted the AHCA's inclusion of vital life protectionsfor the unborn, writing that they honor "a key moral requirement for ournation's health care policy."

However, the letter also stresses deep concerns regarding"serious flaws" in the AHCA, including major modifications to the Medicaidsystem and a new tax credit which, reportedly, will result in significant barriersto coverage and affordability for millions, particularly for low income personsand seniors.  

Bishop Dewane underscored that "[i]n attempting toimprove the deficiencies of the ACA, health care policy ought not create otherunacceptable problems, particularly for those who struggle on the margins ofour society." In quoting Pope Francis,the letter notes, "Health, indeed, is not a consumer good, but a universalright which means that access to healthcare services cannot be a privilege."

Among other things, the letter also notes a lack of anychanges to afford conscience protection against mandates to provide contraceptionand sterilization coverage or services.

The full text of the letter is available at:  www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/letter-to-house-from-bishop-dewane-on-AHCA-2017-03-17.pdf

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB,Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, AmericanHealth Care Act (AHCA), respect for life, human dignity, Pope Francis, consciencerights, health care, affordability, abortion, poverty.

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Media Contact: Judy Keane 202-541-3200