Updated: House-passed Trumpcare bill deplored by Catholic Health Association

President Donald Trump speaks during a school choice event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. The president Donald planned to meet with lawmakers who authored a plan aimed at preventing another collapse of the Republican health care bill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  

UPDATE May 5, 2017 12:50 a.m.:

In a response that came hours after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), 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 strip out "harmful" provisions of the bill when the chamber takes it up for consideration or else to essentially start over on Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Click here for more coverage of the reactions from Catholic leaders.

UPDATE May 4, 2017 2:37 p.m:

AP reports: 
Relieved Republicans have pushed their prized health care bill through the House. The mostly party-line 217-213 vote advances a bill that addresses their longtime pledge to erase the 2010 Obama health care law.

Thursday’s vote sends the measure to the Senate. Many senators consider the House bill too harsh and it’s expected to undergo substantial changes.

Carol Keehan, D.C., president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, is standing by her previous criticism of the "repeal and replace" package.

In a statement issued on May 4, she said, “This bill will hurt millions of working Americans very seriously and it has only been made worse with amendments."

The House measure collapsed in March due to opposition by conservative and moderate GOP lawmakers. House leaders abandoned another attempt to pass the bill last week after support was lacking.

Leaders finally rounded up enough support after adding money aimed at helping seriously ill patients afford their medical costs.

Democrats said the bill would kick millions off coverage. They predicted Republicans would pay the price in next year’s elections.

UPDATE May 4, 2017 11:50 a.m:

Despite 11th hour GOP amendments intended to make the latest iteration of the American Health Care Act (A.H.C.A.) palatable to Republican moderates queasy about cutting off people with pre-existing conditions from health insurance, Carol Keehan, D.C., president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, is standing by her previous criticism of the "repeal and replace" package.

In a statement issued on May 4, she said, “This bill will hurt millions of working Americans very seriously and it has only been made worse with amendments.

"We urge members of the House to stand for the health and safety of the people they represent and vote no on this plan to take billions out of health care for working Americans and the elderly and give it in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.”

 

Third time is not the charm for Carol Keehan, D.C., president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States. She finds even less to like in the latest health care proposals from House Republicans. They are making a last-ditch effort to “reform and repeal” the Affordable Care Act before the clock runs out on the Trump administration’s first 100 days on Saturday, April 29.

A C.H.A. statement released on April 26 notes a Congressional Budget Office analysis that indicates the Republicans’ Obamacare replacement package would mean that “14 million people who had just gotten health insurance would lose it, and approximately 10 million more would lose their coverage in later years.”

The statement continues: “In addition, the legislation drastically changes and cuts $880 billion from the Medicaid program, leading to reduced coverage and affordability for millions of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.”

“The recent amendments to the bill, intended to make it more palatable to those who did not support it initially, are even more disastrous for people who have just gotten health care.”

Sister Keehan adds, “The recent amendments to the bill, intended to make it more palatable to those who did not support it initially, are even more disastrous for people who have just gotten health care.” Sister Keehan also objects to the manner in which these late amendments have been hammered out among House Republicans. “We must point out that this bill has been crafted largely behind closed doors,” she says, “with almost no input from providers of health care.”

According to Sister Keehan, the latest proposals would further harm health care delivery in the United States, undermining the A.C.A.’s essential benefits requirements and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The additions are intended to draw more votes from the G.O.P.’s conservative Freedom Caucus, but the measures would once again allow insurers to set annual and lifetime caps on the care they cover, a return to form that Sister Keehan charges “would seriously undermine health security and leave many individuals with substandard protection.”

“Even the proposed state high-risk pools would be an inadequate and underfunded solution to a problem that need not exist in the first place,” Sister Keehan says.

“It is critically important to look at this bill for what it is. It is not in any way a health care bill,” she charges. “Rather, it is legislation whose aim is to take significant funding allocated by Congress for health care for very low-income people and use that money for tax cuts for some of our wealthiest citizens. This is contrary to the spirit of who we are as a nation, a giant step backward that should be resisted.”

Sister Keehan was joined today in criticizing the new proposals by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

As the U.S. House of Representatives appears poised to vote on the American Health Care Act (HB 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, stressed that remaining flaws in the bill will harm poor and vulnerable people and called on members to insist upon changes.

"It is deeply disappointing to many Americans that, in modifying the American Health Care Act to again attempt a vote, proponents of the bill left in place its serious flaws, including unacceptable modifications to Medicaid that will endanger coverage and affordability for millions of people, according to reports," said Bishop Dewane. "Sadly, some of the recently proposed amendments—especially those designed to give states flexibility—lack apparent safeguards to ensure quality of care. These additions could severely impact many people with pre-existing conditions while risking for others the loss of access to various essential coverages."

Ironically, even as House Republicans continue a last minute surge against Obamacare, a number of red and purple state—Kansas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Maine—that had rejected the expansion as a potential budget buster are having second thoughts, perceiving Medicaid expansion as a social and economic boon to neighboring states that have embraced it. Kaiser Health News reports that 31 states plus the District of Columbia have already accepted the expansion, which provided federal funding to broaden eligibility to include most low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

In a recent analysis, researchers from the National Association of State Budget Officers concluded that when states expanded eligibility they did see larger health care expenditures — but those costs were covered with federal funding, according to K.H.N. That means that budget gaps did not materialize and expansion states did not have to skimp on other state-level policy priorities. (States will have to begin paying 10 percent of Medicaid expansion costs in 2020.) K.H.N. reports it also meant states that accepted Medicaid expansion had new resources at their disposal to confront the nation’s raging opioid epidemic.

“This is a potential big benefit, not only to people who get coverage, but to state economies,” Benjamin Sommers, an associate professor of health policy and economics at Harvard University’s public health school, told K.H.N.

This report was updated at 3:58 p.m. on April 27.

Mike Evans
4 months 3 weeks ago

Apparently no Catholics among the GOP cares in any way about what the Church's leadership says about healthcare. Mr. Ryan might remember this when he goes back to his district for re-election. He is so desperate to pass something that looks like a campaign promise but in reality is a direct dismissal of such a great human need. The so-called "savings" in healthcare programs will more than be offset by much higher costs in treating people with severe illnesses and especially in human suffering. Jesus, who spent most of his ministry healing, would be ashamed.

Philip Fabiano
4 months 3 weeks ago

Look, I'm an old school Italian. We are good at holding grudges--especially with people we know and especially family. I have a hard time with any Catholic group--less some like Nuns on the Bus, etc. --who tried everything to sabotage the ACA. A bill that promotes social justice values! Over what? Contraception? This bill saves lives and you were concerned with contraception, etc. This was easy, lets get the benefits and find easy ways to accommodate our faith. And don't get caught up with the word "accommodate." We are paralyzed without compromise and the Church should have been the most vocal voice for ACA and it SIMPLY WAS NOT. This was simply baby/bath water stuff. Now its time for the Church to perform its penance. No need to speak politics from the pulpit--heck I remember a taped message the Monday before a recent presidential election from the Archbishop of Philadelphia that did not say vote for Bush but that certainly was the message--but it is time from a load and clear message that healthcare is a Christain and Catholic and human right. We cannot go back but rather EXPAND!

Eugene Fitzpatrick
4 months 3 weeks ago

I hear you Philip and share your lament. I'm wondering however if you suggested that the Archbishop of Philadelphia was making a not too veiled pitch for Joe and Mary pew-sitter to vote for Trump ( i.e. not Bush).. Watching Chaput perform in Denver for a number of years, one witnessed a virtual Republican precinct hack peddling the neocon, neoliberal, quasi fascist party line all decked out in mitre and crosier.

THOMAS Heyman
4 months 3 weeks ago

Phil Fabiano and the other commenters have it exactly right. The cries of the USCCB about the Republican travesty of a healthcare bill to repeal the ACA are crocodile tears. I could name numerous bishops well over half the membership who decided to wink at the patently unsuitability for office of Trump, a serial philanderer, a cheat and a liar and abuser of women. Yet, they never told their congregations that one must love the living as well as the unborn in deciding on who best represented the call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and share one's resources with those most in need .
Instead instead they helped elect a man who is committed to making the rich richer, and taking health care away from 24 million. Trump is the total antithesis of the call of the beatitudes reflecting the great commandment. He is filled with hate rather than love. Yet, those bishops said nothing to back up Francis's labelling of him as unchristian. They did not hold him accountable for his failures in these regards. They just went on their no same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion. They brought this on us and they need to be held accountable.
Also, magazine's like America did not take the kind of hard stand against the USCCB that one expects from independent journalists. Matt Malone has over and over again not risen to speak out with the strong voice of past editors. The magazine looks s prettier but its content has suffered.

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

If anyone is interested in understanding what is going on with the proposed healthcare law, the Wall Street Journal has a good analysis. (google "Ending ObamaCare, Part One")

This will lead you to a google search and you can click on the link which usually lets one get pass the paywall at the Wall Street Journal.

Until any author on America delineates the problems with the ACA, can they be taken seriously when they present opinions that are critical of the ACHA. That is what is generally missing from articles on America, a discussion of the pro and cons versus the alternatives.

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