Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Priorities for a Faithful Healthcare System

The Office of Public Witness joins 40 Faith Organizations in signing a letter urging that any change, repeal or repair of the ACA must be comprehensive and meet our 10 priorities for a faithful healthcare system.

These principles include preserving the coverage gains made by the ACA, upholding the purpose of Medicaid by refraining from structural funding changes, maintaining the essential health benefits currently provided by the ACA, and preventing insurance companies from discrimination against women, the elderly, and people in poverty. The letter can be viewed in full online.

The draft House bill revealed yesterday, entitled the American Health Care Act will substantially reduce the Affordable Care Act subsidies that helped millions afford health insurance and end the Medicaid expansion that extended health coverage to millions more. It also ends Medicaid as people in America now know it, saddling states with new health care costs by creating per-capita caps[2].

The proposal also defunds Planned Parenthood. It must be noted that it is illegal for government money to be used for abortions. Therefore, arguments on Capitol Hill, state legislatures and local municipalities are morally based rather than directly related to the utilization of government funds for abortionsAt the center of the debate is discontinuing government contracts for Planned Parenthood as a service provider for poor people.

Furthermore, all of ACA’s taxes are repealed, which amounts to an enormous tax cut for the wealthy — at least $346 billion over 10 years with every cent going to taxpayers earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples). It also will exacerbate the fiscal problems of Medicare, by hastening the exhaustion of the program’s trust fund by four years, to 2025.[3]

Isaiah speaks God’s word to say “No more shall there be … an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime” (Isa. 65:20a).
We, as Reformed Christians, bear witness to Jesus Christ in word, but also in deed.
As followers of our Great Physician Jesus, we have a moral imperative to work to assure that everyone has full access to health care[1].

The call for people of faith to care and provide for those whose lives are scarred by poverty and illness is a mandatory call. Christians are called to feed the hungry and provide for the sick. Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan wherein a stranger, an enemy of the injured man, provided for his care out of his personal resources. Muslims are called to visit the sick as a part of their healing. The Jewish faith has a scriptural mandate to provide hospitality and care for the sick required of both laity and clergy.

We are faced with a repeal based upon reasons which are not moral, ethical nor right; rather strictly political. The American Health Care Act is an unnecessary replacement for a law that has increased by over 20 million those who have health care coverage. What we have before us is a refusal to do what is best for millions who are having to make difficult choices when deciding whether to feed their family or health care. We stand and speak in support of the Affordable Care Act as a sign of our witness to the love of God for all people, especially those struggling under the crushing weight of poverty.

[1] On Supporting Single Payer Universal Healthcare Reform
Approved by the 218th General Assembly (2008)

[2] http://familiesusa.org/press-release/2017/house-aca-replacement-plan-revealed-would-slash-coverage-and-ration-care-millions

[3] http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-obamacare-repeal-20170306-story.html