On Monday, Republican leaders unveiled legislation to repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act and “replace” it with a health policy scheme that would offer less financial assistance to low-income people and provide tax credits to those with higher incomes.
In response, Sister Simone Campbell, SSS of the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice released a letter to members of the committees reviewing the replacement bill.
“Committee members should have key principles to guide their deliberations,” Campbell wrote in the letter, published Tuesday on Network’s website. These principles, she argued, should be grounded in faith and aim to serve the highest common good.
Campbell, who spoke at the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington, has been a longtime supporter of the Affordable Care Act and helped spearhead a letter to Congress from a large coalition of nuns in support of the bill in 2010.
In her letter on Tuesday, the nun offered committee members a roadmap with her “10 Commandments of Health care,” which includes principles like “Thou shalt expand Medicaid to better serve vulnerable people in our nation” and “Thou shalt not allow insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.”
The Affordable Care Act helped some 20 million Americans get health insurance, largely by expanding eligibility for Medicaid and making subsidized private insurance available to people who aren’t covered through an employer. Roughly 70 million Americans are currently covered through Medicaid, and more than 11 million of them gained coverage after the ACA took effect.
Thou shalt not allow insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.
The new bill, which Republicans are calling the “American Health Care Act,” would dramatically cut back states’ funding for the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Instead of providing states with however much money it takes to guarantee comprehensive benefits for anyone who is eligible, the federal government would offer funding on a per-capita basis ― and likely greatly reduce the number of overall recipients.
“Our test for any ACA replacement bill is simple: Does the bill protect access to quality, affordable, equitable health care for vulnerable communities?” Campbell said in a statement. “After reviewing the House GOP replacement bill, the answer is a resounding no.”
Read Sister Simone Campbell’s “10 Commandments for Health care” below:
1. Thou shalt provide affordable insurance and the same benefits to all currently covered under the Affordable Care Act.
2. Thou shalt continue to allow children under the age of 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance.
3. Thou shalt ensure that insurance premiums and cost sharing are truly affordable to all.
4. Thou shalt expand Medicaid to better serve vulnerable people in our nation.
5. Thou shalt not undercut the structure or undermine the purpose of Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare funding.
6. Thou shalt create effective mechanisms of accountability for insurance companies and not allow them to have annual or lifetime caps on expenditures.
7. Thou shalt not allow insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.
8. Thou shalt not allow insurance companies to discriminate against women, the elderly, and people in poverty.
9. Thou shalt provide adequate assistance for people enrolling and using their health coverage.
10. Thou shalt continue to ensure reasonable revenue is in the federal budget to pay for life-sustaining healthcare for all.