Bishop Zubik's statement on proposed senate's health care plan

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On behalf of those whose voices may not be heard at this critical time, those living  in poverty, in nursing homes and with disabilities, I urge our senators to remove from the proposed Senate health care bill provisions that will severely limit health care access for those most in need.

Access to health care is a basic human right.  Since 1919, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for a universal health care plan that protects every person at every stage of life. After the Affordable Care Act passed, I vigorously sought a reform so that religious institutions could follow their own teachings in regard to medical practices that they believe are morally wrong.

Unfortunately, the Senate's proposed health care legislation is morally unacceptable, as it greatly reduces Medicaid coverage, making comprehensive, quality health care inaccessible to millions who cannot afford to purchase coverage. The chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has stated that this Senate bill “retains many of the fundamental defects” of the House of Representatives’ proposed legislation and “even further compounds them. 

The proposed phase-out of Medicaid expansion will place the financial burden on states to fund the cost of providing health care to the poor and disabled.  Many states with higher populations of poorer residents and already strained budgets will not be able to take on these costs.

The Senate bill places at risk:

•  The 2.6 million Pennsylvania residents who receive Medicaid – including 1.1 million children, 730,000 persons with disabilities and 82,000 military veterans;

•  The nearly one-third of all Pennsylvania births now covered by Medicaid; and

•  The more than 260,000 Pennsylvania seniors who rely on Medicaid to cover nursing home and long-term in-home care not covered by Medicare.

Catholics are called to work for the life and God-given dignity of every human being, especially the marginalized. For the sake of our poor and vulnerable families and our struggling communities, I urge you to ask our U.S. senators to remove these objectionable provisions from the proposed legislation.  Our public servants have a moral responsibility to protect the fundamental right to comprehensive, quality healthcare for everyone in our nation. It is a challenging duty. Please hold them in your prayers.