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American Church presses Senate to act for most vulnerable

American bishops have called on their country’s senators to reject any bill that would replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unless such a measure “protects poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants, safeguards the unborn and supports conscience rights,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The bishop called on the Senate to fix problems with the ACA, rather than repeal it without an adequate replacement, saying that proposals have been “seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways,” Bishop Dewane said. In addition to the bishops’ statement, more than 7,000 Catholic nuns are urging senators to oppose a motion to proceed todebate on a healthcare bill and called the Republican’s plan to repeal and replace parts of the Act – nicknamed Obamacare – “immoral and contrary to the teachings of our Catholic faith”.

President Donald Trump has encouraged his party to move forward with replacing the Act, but the Catholic Bishops have highlighted the need for Congress to work in a “bipartisan fashion to protect vulnerable Americans and preserve important gains in health care coverage and access.” Attempts to replace the Act have collapsed, most recently on July 17 when four Republican senators said they couldn’t support it.

“All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born,” the bishops said when the Act was first debated in 2010. “The bishops’ conference believes health care should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable.”

Bishop Dewane said the bishops were clear in their stance: the ACT must not be repealed without a suitable replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their well-being.

[quote pull=”center”]”To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating,” he said.[/quote]

It’s estimated that 22 million Americans would lose medical insurance if Obamacare were repealed. Republicans, however, point to its flaws including an increase in costs and an intrusion into the affairs of private businesses and individuals. SA

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.

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Claire Mathieson
Writer, editor and knowledge management specialist, Claire has worked in both traditional and Catholic media spaces. She balances her time between providing strategic communications and knowledge management in the world of climate change and sustainable development and as an associate editor on spotlight.africa.

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