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Proposed health care law does not measure up

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I would like to share this abridged version of a message that was sent June 27 by Sheila Gilbert, president of the National Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in the U.S., to Vincentians nationwide, urging them to be heard. I share it because sometimes Catholics don’t speak up. But it is important to speak out, even if the politicians don’t like it.

At the earliest possible moment, I urge you to either e-mail or call your US Senator to urge him or her not to support the just released Senate legislation which would decimate health care coverage for the poor and vulnerable the very individuals, families and children we care so deeply about and minister to daily.

The Society has consistently maintained that the expanded health care coverage that the poor and vulnerable currently have not be rolled back. We understand that there are parts of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that warrant revision and improvement. Indeed, we join in the call for such changes. But neither the previously passed House version or this new version, re-branded as the “Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017,” do that. The BCRA does not even come close to adhering to the “Ten Commandments of Health Care Coverage” which the Society and many other faith-based organizations have developed to guide and measure proposed federal legislation.

In short, here are key reasons why the legislation does not measure up, though there are many more, too:

  • Around 22 million individuals are projected to lose coverage in the next 10 years.
  • The Medicaid Expansion program, now in full operation in 31 states, would be phased out. This program addresses the critical health needs of the poor and vulnerable we serve in countless ways every day across the country. By legal definition, Medicaid Expansion covers those with incomes of 138 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Level; in other words, for a family of four an income of $33,534 or less.
  • The proposed legislation effectively rescinds the substantial advances we have made as a country in extending basic health care coverage to all, regardless of economic status. Such vital coverage has long been understood as a fundamental human and moral right in our Catholic Social Teaching tradition.

This is hardly the preferential option for the poor that we Vincentians take so seriously and live out so meaningfully in our ministry.

  • You can register your opposition via this toll-free number: 888-738-3058.
  • Or you can call your senator directly via the U.S. Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121.
  • You can also contact your senator via email by using the link on this page.

Who are the Vincentians

  • With nearly 800,000 members working for the underprivileged throughout the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is one of the best represented NGOs (non-governmental organizations) worldwide.
  • Its basic unit, the “conference,” gathers 10 to 15 people who act autonomously within the framework of individualized charity. On a global scale, this grouping of conferences, and local, regional and national councils forms a vast net of charity, as envisioned by one of its principal founders: Blessed Frederic Ozanam.
  • If you feel a desire in your heart to help those who have nothing, you will be welcome among the Vincentians. For more information, call 305-635-9585.

Comments from readers

Jorge Costales - 07/19/2017 02:44 PM
I understand that stating that "around 22 million individuals may choose not to buy coverage if mandates are eliminated over the next 10 years" is not as catchy as "around 22 million individuals are projected to lose coverage in the next 10 years," but it does have the advantage of not being intellectually dishonest. Disappointed to see the St. Vincent de Paul Society name invoked in the service of such an obviously slanted talking point. I thought that was what cable TV was for.

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