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Christians respond to the American Health Care Act

Christians respond to the American Health Care Act

The Episcopal Church released the following letter yesterday regarding the bill that passed the House last week:

I hope that this letter finds you well. On behalf of the Episcopal Church, I write in response to yesterday’s unveiling of the American Health Care Act. As you may know, our Church upholds affordable and effective health care for every American, backs Medicaid as an essential program for low-income families, and supports adequate government funding for research and medical care for women’s health. Our vision for America includes a compassionate and economically viable health care system that protects low-income, elderly, and at-risk populations.

The provisions outlined in the American Health Care Act regrettably fall short of the health care standards that we maintain are essential to a thriving and beloved community. Through replacing our current subsidies with a tax credit system, the American Health Care Act would sacrifice the profound needs of at-risk communities for the convenience of wealthier populations. The proposal to defund Planned Parenthood (which provides low-income women—many of whom rely on Medicaid—with broad-based health services, including cancer screening), and sunsetting the Medicaid expansion would further compound the vulnerability of those most in need. A thorough evaluation by the Congressional Budget Office would offer more clarity on the full impact of the Act, yet the Act is advancing without this crucial step of accountability.

While the Episcopal Church commends your intention to improve and streamline the Affordable Care Act, as well as your worthy effort to protect those with preexisting conditions and to create an appropriate transitional timeline, we believe that the American Health Care Act is not enough for America. This current proposal falls woefully short of our spiritual calling to care for the ‘least of these,’ as well as the noble values upon which our great nation was founded. To achieve life, and fullness of life, every American must have affordable, accessible, health care. As you consider the American Health Care Act, I pray that you remember those persons who may not be physically present with you in the room, but who rely on your leadership and protection to survive.

Thank you for your consideration.

Rebecca Linder Blachly, MDiv

Director of Government Relations of The Episcopal Church

[Editor’s note: This letter was initially published in March, in response to the first version of the AHCA brought forward. It was re-released to correct a misquote by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, “Trumpcare falls woefully short of our spiritual calling to care for the least of these, as well as the noble values upon which our great nation was founded.” Neva Rae Fox corrected the quote, saying in an email, “Please know that the Episcopal Church has never used the phrase ‘Trumpcare.’ The language in the letter is ‘this current proposal.'”]

Meanwhile, on Twitter, Christians expressed their outrage. Some of the best Tweets can be found in this round up by The Huffington Post, such as this one by @WilGafney, “A bill that allows states to deny insurance coverage for maternal health care is not #ProLife.”

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Paul Woodrum

We have a patchwork of medical support systems with cracks and fissures between them into which too many fall. We have Medicare for the elderly. Medicaid for the poor. The VA for veterans, and private insurance for those lucky enough to have it provided by their employer. or, if one can afford it, they can buy their own.

Why not one system, supported as social security is. In the long run it would provide better care for more people at less cost.

We figured out that tax-supported public education was a common good. Why not apply the same principle to health care. Why not recognize health care is a right, not a commodity, and promotes the common good of our society.

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Chris Harwood

It will only cost less if the law includes cost controls, cheaper education for doctors, limits on lawsuits, drug price controls, hospital mark up limits, etc. And, let's remember that even in countries with single payer systems, many/most people still buy insurance for the things it doesn't cover. It will also cost jobs. Better than what we have now? Definitely, the perfect panacea people here think of? Not quite.

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Philip B. Spivey

Thank you, Church for your witness. A reasonable solution?

Very simple---Medicare for all. The only stakeholders who will suffer under a single-payer system are those who are enriched by the current system. Why is it that we are the only developed
country that doesn't consider health care a right?

I hope our Church goes the next step and calls for universal health care.

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Cynthia Katsarelis

From your keyboard to God's laptop. It should be universal single payer. Or it should be a not-for-profit industry.

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Rocco Danforth

Guys, check out your local churches, continued liberal advocacy is not going to put bodies in the pews. Our conservative brothers and sisters make up a large portion of our communities. Most Republicans I know won't get up on Sundays to be lectured on why their deeply held beliefs are wrong. Many above commentators claim that the views are not the church's yet the views of a few highly placed officials, but the reality is individuals do not want to join a church or a communion based upon openness, love, and acceptance, when they are curtly told that they're not true Christians because they don't support the flavor of the month policies which MSNBC happens to be advocating. Its a choice, some will say that I as well as many conservatives across the nation are heartless, some will say unChristlike. Yet, I truly believe TEC will rapidly discover that such exclusionary language may play well on the tenure committees, or in the faculty lounges, yet simply does not resonate will middle America. The church is dying, literally, and taking official political positions does nothing to reverse this trend, yet from my experience exacerbates it.

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leslie marshall

Rocco. right you are. We've reached our limit in being talked down to because we embrace traditional, orthodox, bible teachings.

And I think the fine people of MI, WI & PA would say the same thing.

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Chris Harwood

Very true.

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Gregory Orloff

The church statement reported here seems to be rooted not in "liberal advocacy," but rather in the gospel values of loving neighbor, loving enemy and treating others the same way we want to be treated. Shall we stop preaching those ethics of Christ Jesus, Mr. Danforth, for fear of offending conservative sensibilities and not "putting bodies in the pews"? Don't forget — how we treat the sick is how we treat Christ Jesus, according to his own words in Matthew 25:31-46.

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Linda McMillan

I would rather have NO church, than a church that eschews love, openness, and acceptance. What good is church if it exists just to make sinners feel better and not to challenge them to actually be better? That kind of church is worthless.

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Dawn Curtis Kinsley

As a Christian I find the defense and support of Planned Parenthood, an organization that is responsible for over 300.000 abortions in America per year, an organization that has sold for profit body parts of the most innocent, a disgrace and a sin against God. Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Psalm 139:13 13 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Job 31:15 “Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? “

This organization should not receive government funding. The government provides insurance by way of Medicaid to the poor of our nation and guess what ...it is free and accepted in so many other health care facilities (hospitals, health care centers, doctors etc.) let's not pretend that without Planned Parenthood there will be no care for the poor women of this country.

I don't get it? I have seen protests against so much less than what this PRIVATE organization is guilty of!

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Marshall Scott

Sister Kinsley, I don't doubt your good faith. There are some matters on which you're misinformed.

First, Medicaid is not available for near as many as would be thought. There is great variation from state to state. In my own state of Missouri, no childless adult (in this case a woman in prenatal care is not considered "childless") qualifies for Medicaid, regardless of income. In families making less than $35,000 per year (total household income), children can qualify; but the parents may still not qualify.

Medicaid is also like any other insurance: there are things covered and things not, and circumstances that require copays. There may be other requirements, too, such as being in a jobs program. As a result, even with Medicaid a patient may end up with a significant medical debt. If they don't get primary care and just show up an emergency room (think about the recent congressman from Idaho who was thinking of this when he said, "No one dies for lack of health care" - and glad he thought of this, but this is not the only concern), that medical debt will only be that much greater.

Finally, while there are many providers who are accepting Medicaid patients (remember, the oft cited statement that "1/3 of primary care physicians aren't taking new Medicaid patients" also means that 2/3 are), folks may well live in the medical equivalent of a "food desert." Transportation issues to get to a provider can be substantial.

Which leads us back to Planned Parenthood. You write, "let’s not pretend that without Planned Parenthood there will be no care for the poor women of this country." I'm afraid we can't pretend that there will be enough other care, with affordable copays, in accessible locations for the poor women of this country.

You are also misinformed about "[selling] for profit body parts of the most innocent." The video that purported to show that has been demonstrated to be false and misrepresentation, and the members of the organization that produced it have been charged with fraud and violation of the rights of those recorded.

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Thom Forde

Absolutely, Ms. Kingsley, thank you for this. I think many people across the political spectrum agreed that our healthcare system needed to be fixed. But the "Affordable" Health Care Act was NOT the answer. Doing nothing would have been a more progressive move. As to the question above about where were the conservatives: they were largely ignored, shut out, and lied about.

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leslie marshall

Yes. Ms Kingsley. Thank you for this.
In the bible, God is present at every conception (check it out).

Undoing something God does is wrong. God loves life.

In Hebrew, the word for Mercy = 'Protect Life'. And the word for Womb = 'Life inside the fence of water'.

Christians celebrate Life.

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Naomi Carter

Amen!

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