Responding to the vote by the Senate to move forward with debate on a bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, U.S. bishops urged senators “to work together to advance changes that serve the common good” and not to enact current G.O.P.-backed proposals that they said “would harm millions of struggling Americans.”
“The health care reform proposals currently under consideration would harm millions of struggling Americans by leaving too many at risk of losing adequate health coverage and continue to exclude too many people, including immigrants,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., said in a statement.
“The health care reform proposals currently under consideration would harm millions of struggling Americans.”
Bishop Dewane, who heads the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said for any replacement health care bill should include a provision that prohibits federal funds from paying for abortions, known as the Hyde Amendment, as well as “much-needed conscience protections” for health care workers.
The bishop echoed earlier statements, saying, “The current proposals are simply unacceptable as written, and any attempts to repeal the A.C.A. without a concurrent replacement is also unacceptable.”
He suggested that changes to the current health care law could be improved “with narrower reforms that do not jeopardize the access to health care that millions currently receive.”
Protesters briefly disrupted the Senate proceedings on the health care bill, shouting “Kill the bill.”
Catholic leaders had urged senators not to vote in favor of a bill to proceed on debate, which passed 51-50 on Monday, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. Two Republicans voted against the measure.
Protesters briefly disrupted the Senate proceedings on the health care bill, shouting “Kill the bill” and “shame” before being led out of the chamber by police.
In a dramatic turn, Senator John McCain returned from Arizona where he is battling brain cancer to cast a crucial vote on the bill. President Trump thanked Mr. McCain for his vote and said that he wanted “to congratulate the American people” because better health care is on the way.
Leading up to the vote on Tuesday, the Catholic Health Association, which represents more than 600 Catholic hospitals and which has been critical of Republican-backed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, took to social media to urge Catholics to contact their senators.
Yesterday,a group of Catholic sisters visited all 100 senate offices to deliver a letter signed by more than 7,000 sisters urging Senators not to vote for any legislation that would cut Medicaid.
The women religious said the G.O.P. plan “goes against our Catholic faith teaching,” describing it as “the most harmful legislation for American families in our lifetimes.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.