On October 8, the bishops chairing the USCCB committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities, and Migration wrote to Congress that the bishops would have no choice but to oppose a final health care bill that fails to address key concerns and noted:
- Policies against abortion funding and in support of conscience rights must be in the bill.
- Health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable.
- The needs of legal immigrants and their families should be met.
Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said, “No current health care bill approved by committee is consistent with longstanding and widely supported federal policies on abortion and conscience rights. Contrary to recent misleading comments from some sources, this and other health care reform bills appropriate their own funds outside the scope of the annual Labor/HHS appropriations bills, and so are not covered by the Hyde amendment that prevents those bills from funding abortion coverage. This legislation needs its own provision against such funding."
Kevin Appleby, USCCB Director of Migration and Refugee Policy, said, "If the goal of health-care reform is to reduce significantly the number of uninsured, the Senate bill falls well short. As passed out of the Finance Committee, millions of legal immigrants and their families would be left outside the system, dependent on emergency rooms for their primary care."
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has advocated for health care reform for decades. The bishops wrote in their October 8 letter that “Catholic moral tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential to protecting human life and dignity. Much-needed reform of our health care system must be pursued in ways that serve the life and dignity of all, never in ways that undermine or violate these fundamental values. We will work tirelessly to remedy these central problems and help pass real reform that clearly protects the life, dignity and health of all.”
The full text of the letter can be found online at: www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-10-08-healthcare-letter-congress.pdf