WASHINGTON—In light of uncertainty about how the Senate will proceed on health care in the coming days, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to fix problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a more narrow way, rather than repeal it without an adequate replacement.
"Before any legislation had been
proposed, the bishops were clear that a repeal of key provisions of the
Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a
replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions
of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing," wrote Dewane in the July
20 letter to the full Senate. "To end coverage for those who struggle every day
without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating."
The Senate has been discussing
various approaches for health care reform, including an ACA repeal approach
that does not immediately decide upon a replacement plan. "The American
Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the
Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would
have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways. In the face of
difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create
greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing
the ACA without a replacement.
Bishop Dewane urged Congress "to
address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term
sustainability" by "more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisan way."
Included in this would be extending full Hyde Amendment protections to the ACA,
enacting laws that protect the conscience rights of all stakeholders in health
care, protecting religious freedom, and passing legislation that begins to
address barriers to access and affordability for the poor.
The full letter can be found at: