On June 22, the U.S. Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), its proposed replacement of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Due to the bill’s open-amendment process, your senators have the ability to meaningfully alter the bill from its present form before it is brought to a vote after the July 4 recess. Contacting your Senators in the next several days could make a serious impact on the final text of the bill.
The bishops value language currently in the legislation recognizing that abortion is not health care by attempting to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortion or plans that cover it. However, they have serious concerns about flawed elements of the proposal.
In a June 22 statement on the bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, noted, “It is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written.” Bishop Dewane provided a more detailed critique of the BCRA in a June 26 letter to members of the U.S. Senate.
The USCCB recommends the following three changes to the Senate health care bill, entitled the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017:
- Strip out harmful changes to Medicaid that will wreak havoc on the poor and vulnerable, including the per capita caps
- Ensure that any health care legislation includes protections for the unborn in all respects, including Hyde amendment prohibitions on use of federal funds on abortions or plans that cover it.
- Include conscience protections for those involved in the health care system.For more details on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ engagement on this issue, please see the statement released Thursday, June 22, on the USCCB website here. Follow the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Twitter, like them on Facebook, or check their website for further updates.