The Catholic bishops in the United States have taken a strong, unequivocal position in the current debate over appropriate health care policies. In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (2015), the bishops declared, “Affordable and accessible health care Is … a fundamental human right. …The nation’s health care system needs to be rooted in values that respect human dignity, protect human life, respect the principle of subsidiarity, and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, especially born and unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations. Paragraph 80.
More specifically, in A Framework for Health Care Reform (1993), the bishops established several criteria for evaluating any proposed public health care policy according to Gospel values. These criteria include:
• Respect for Life – whether the proposed policy affirms and respects the sanctity and dignity of human life from conception through natural death
• Priority Concern for the Poor – whether the proposed policy gives special priority to meeting the most pressing health care needs of the poor and underserved, ensuring that they receive quality health services
• Access for All – whether the proposal provides ready access to quality, comprehensive and affordable health care for every person living in the united States
• Comprehensive Benefits – whether the proposed policy provides comprehensive benefits sufficient to maintain and promote good health.
In a recent letter to Congress regarding the current proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. bishops expressed concern that, if either of the health care bills currently under consideration in the House and Senate are passed and become law, millions of poor Americans are likely to lose health insurance. The bishops advised that this is unacceptable and urged Congress to modify their proposals to be consistent with Gospel values.
The bishops encourage faithful Catholics to carefully consider these same Gospel-based criteria in forming their consciences and to offer feedback to their congressional representatives on this important issue. Accordingly, we ask you to write or call your congressional representatives:
- U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson
- U.S. Senator David Perdue
- Congressman Hank Johnson, Jr (4th District)
- Congressman John Lewis (5th District)
For the complete text of the bishops’ letter to Congress regarding the health care legislation currently under consideration in the House and Senate, go to: Letter To Senate On Health Care Reform.