2017 Statements from Faith Leaders

Following the May 4, 2017, passage of the American Health Care Act by the U.S. House of Representatives, faith leaders shared their perspectives on what this piece of legislation will mean for those most in need of health care in the United States.

United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society:  Tragically, we find again and again that health care succumbs to political gamesmanship rather than legislating for the common good – and health – of all people. – The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society

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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness:  The AHCA is not a practical response to the demand to repeal and replace the ACA. We can remedy high premiums without dismantling healthcare that millions of people from the margins rely on.” – Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness

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Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):  “I am saddened that our elected officials played politics with and bargained away the lives of the 24 million Americans who will lose health care coverage under the American Health Care Act.  Hebrew and Christian Scriptures urge us to “rob not the poor” (Proverbs 22:22) and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).  Jesus, whom we follow, made healing and wholeness a high priority in his ministry.  I join with other people from all faith traditions to pray that, unlike the House, the Senate will meet its moral responsibility to defend and expand affordable, quality health care for all.” — The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

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Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis and wider Reform Movement:  “We are deeply disheartened by the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House of Representatives, legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cost millions of people access to the quality, affordable health care that should be a right. This reverses the tremendous progress that has been made in recent years to increase the number of Americans with health insurance. We urgently call on the Senate to reject this profoundly harmful legislation.

“The stakes could not be higher. While Congress is rushing through this reckless legislation without an evaluation from the Congressional Budget Office, the last CBO scoring of the bill estimated that 24 million Americans would lose coverage by 2026 under the AHCA. Many of these losses would stem from an $840 billion cut to Medicaid—a measure that would force people with disabilities and low-income children and families into particularly perilous circumstances. The legislation also removes protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and allows insurance companies to provide health plans with insufficient coverage. Leaving millions of people without health care would be a moral failure.

“We are inspired by the example set over many centuries in Jewish tradition, which instructs communities to provide health care to their inhabitants (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot IV: 23). Health care is a core aspect of a society of equality and justice. We are not deterred in our pursuit of affordable, high-quality health care for all Americans, and we remain committed to creating a world in which no one has to choose between their health and their financial stability.

“We strongly oppose the AHCA, and we call on all Senators to reject this reckless and irresponsible legislation that would harm millions of Americans.” — Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

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Institute Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy:  The Institute Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy is profoundly dismayed that the House of Representatives failed to uphold the human right to health care with passage of the American Health Care Act.

Independent analysis of the legislation when introduced earlier this year revealed that 14 million fewer people would have healthcare coverage in the first year of its implementation, with an additional 10 million people losing coverage over the next 10 years. Since then, provisions were added that weaken protections under the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions. You may read here the Catholic Health Association’s statement of opposition to the bill.

Pope Francis, speaking to members of a medical missionary organization last year, said: “health is not a consumer good, but rather a universal right, and therefore access to health care services cannot be a privilege.” This legislation fails that test.

The process for rushing this bill to a vote to get a deal at any expense, this time without even the usual analysis of its cost and impact on healthcare coverage, is deeply troubling. And the focus of many too often seemed to be on politics rather than on the implications for vulnerable Americans.

The Institute Justice Team will work with our faith partners to lift up the concerns of those who stand to lose so much with this legislation, as the bill moves now to the Senate for consideration. We will not cease calling for an approach that lowers costs and increases access to health care for more Americans.

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NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice:  “The blood of those who are denied coverage will be on the hands of those who voted for this bill.”

“The passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House is a dangerous and irresponsible step that threatens access to healthcare for at least 24 million Americans. It violates Christian and Catholic faith teaching and the values of our nation.

”The AHCA cuts $880 billion from Medicaid to give large tax cuts to the very wealthiest. This is far from the Gospel mandate to care for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers. It takes away access to healthcare for the most vulnerable and widens the gaps in inequality in our society. This vote was a vote against the millions of children, elderly, people living with disabilities, and people experiencing poverty who are supported by Medicaid.

“In order to appease the Freedom Caucus, the bill was amended to strip crucial protections for the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. The recent changes also gutted the Essential Health Benefit requirements that have expanded access to real, quality, health coverage. Despite these drastic changes, Congress rushed this terrible policy through without a Congressional Budget Office score to know the true consequences and without listening to the needs of the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose the AHCA.

“This was not the faithful way forward. We are hurting our people and rewarding the rich through tax breaks disguised as a healthcare reform bill. This is literal “blood money.” The blood of those who are denied coverage will be on the hands of those who voted for this bill.

“NETWORK published our 10 Commandments of Healthcare Reform based on our faith teaching to protect the most vulnerable. The bill that Speaker Ryan pushed through Congress today fails every single commandment. This is not faithful.

“The Republican party must change its priorities. Rather than preferencing the millionaires and billionaires, they need to begin to listen to their ordinary constituents. Ordinary people want to improve the healthcare we have, not destroy it.” — Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice