Category Archives: Healthcare

Be A Hero hosted a candlelight vigil at the White House calling for a 'True TRIPS waiver' for global vaccine equity and to save lives

Congress and President Biden Must Take Domestic and International COVID-19 Action

Congress and President Biden Must Take Domestic and International COVID-19 Action

Elissa Hackerson
May 13, 2022

How do you carve out a “new normal” in the calm days that follow the urgent times of a pandemic? Two years into life with COVID-19, people in the United States have yet to reach consensus on the path to achieve and maintain normalcy. Medical experts, governments, houses of worship, and ordinary citizens do not accept a uniform standard of safety and protection. Tensions arise over mask requirements in public spaces, vaccines and therapeutics are questioned, restrictions on large public gatherings are shunned, and the efficacy of booster shots is debated. In developed countries like ours, this is privileged discourse. Domestic and international COVID-19 infections persist, but most of us have taken the shot and are now blessed with significantly diminished threats of death and serious illness.

But what about our global siblings in under-resourced nations? How do they fare in places where jabs in the arm aren’t coming because of a lack of political will and resources? The short answer is, not well.

Global Vaccine rates in low-income and middle-income countries are dismally low | Congress and President Biden Must Take Domestic and International COVID-19 Action

© UNICEF/Maria Wamala
COVID-19 vaccinations are being administered in communities hosting refugees, such as Fort Portal, in Uganda.

Globally, only 80% of people in lower-income countries have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The United Nations reports that of the more than 10 billion doses given out worldwide, only one percent have been administered in low-income countries. Here, there is no debate: citizens across the globe that don’t have an economy like ours, and thus lack access to life-saving vaccines and therapeutics, are suffering. They are ravaged by a pernicious disease tamed by remedies in our country because of economic and health inequities: lack of funds to secure the vaccines and therapeutics, well-resourced countries hoarding supply, and Big Pharma’s preference for patent control and profits over sharing the science for lower-cost vaccine production.

Last October, in remarks given at the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies to release vaccine patents to make COVID-19 accessible by the poor. He noted at the time that only 3%-4% of the population in some countries had been vaccinated. One would hope that Big Pharma and world leaders would reflect on that dismally low vaccination rate, heed the words of the Pope, and take action that values lives over profit. But that didn’t happen.

What can people of faith do? Be a pest for those in poverty here and abroad 

In the Popular Movements meeting, Pope Francis recognized that some consider him to be a “pest” because of his unwavering defense of the poor and vulnerable. It doesn’t stop him in the pursuit of prophetic Christianity and it won’t stop NETWORK, either. As a member of the Catholic Cares Coalition, a national coalition of 60 Catholic religious and non-profit organizations promoting domestic COVID-19 vaccination and working to address COVID-19 vaccine and treatment equity in the U.S. and globally, we advocate for life-saving vaccine policies. Most recently, NETWORK signed on to a coalition letter urging Congress to pass a supplemental funding bill that prioritizes funding for ongoing domestic and international COVID-19 needs.

The pressure for domestic COVID-19 funds is necessary because nationwide, government money that secured hospital resources and rapid response measures during the height of the pandemic are running out. In our current landscape, if the government doesn’t pass a supplemental bill, it is likely that our “new normal” includes locking out Medicaid recipients, the uninsured, and the under-insured from free and deeply affordably COVID-19-related care, treatment and vaccines. It is critical that we provide funding which allows the United States to respond to these needs while also fulfilling our promises to assist those around the world.

NETWORK’s Request to Congress:

We support the Catholic Cares Coalitions request: pass the supplemental funding bill with at least $10 billion in domestic funding and $5 billion in international funds for COVID-19 vaccines, testing, therapeutics and delivery system strengthening.

What’s a TRIPS Waiver for COVID-19 All About?

Laura Peralta-Schulte Speaks at a White House Candlelight Vigil Calling for a True TRIPS waiver | Congress and President Biden Must Take Domestic and International COVID-19 Action

Laura Peralta-Schulte speaks at a White House candlelight vigil in May 2022 calling for a true TRIPS waiver.

The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an agreement created when the World Trade Organization was formed in 1995. This agreement restricts the rights to make and distribute patented medicines or materials, including COVID vaccines, testing and treatment, except under emergency conditions.

This Agreement, pushed by knowledge-based economies like the United States and the multinational, research-intensive pharmaceutical industry, imposed a base of protections for intellectual property rights, from patents to copyrights. Johns Hopkins University

In an effort to decrease pandemic deaths and illnesses, a COVID TRIPS waiver was proposed by South African and Indian governments to relax the intellectual property rights protections for medicines and technologies needed to prevent and treat COVID-19. This initial effort to release the science so lives could be saved was rebuffed by developed nations and pharmaceutical companies — who’ve thus far proven maximizing profits and maintaining control of monopolies is more important than saving lives. South Africa and India amended their waiver request so that it subsides in three years. The cap on the TRIPS waiver was intended to make rich countries and Big Pharma in Europe and North America feel better about lost profits and diminished control (in exchange for saving the lives of the global poor), but the measure has yet to draw support.

Are We Our Brother’s (And Sister’s) Keeper?

Congress and President Biden Must Take Domestic and International COVID-19 Action

Ady Barkan appears on screen at a White House candlelight vigil calling for vaccine equity.

Humanitarian efforts to protect our global siblings should trump financial gains and political posturing. After all, the United States is privileged to benefit from Big Pharma’s vaccine supply. Don’t we have a moral obligation to help vaccinate the rest of the world? Pope Francis would say yes!. And so would Ady Barkan, the founder and co-executive director of Be A Hero. During his electoral campaign, Joe Biden promised Barkan that, “if the United States were to discover a vaccine, he would ensure that no patents stand in the way of other countries’ and companies’ mass-producing it.” As president, Mr. Biden has stated that patents and international trade agreements should not be allowed to prevent the affordable production of COVID-19 treatments.

Unfortunately, these have been empty pledges to date. Pfizer and Moderna, two of the companies that received billions of dollars in public taxpayer funding to develop their vaccines, have not shared their innovation with global scientists. This is particularly disturbing in the case of Moderna’s vaccine project which was completely funded by public money. While U.S. tax dollars fueled the Moderna vaccine, the company padded their profit margin, Moderna forecasts at least $19 billion in sales in 2022.

NETWORK and our Catholic and interfaith partners will continue calling on the U.S. government to share live-saving technology and know-how with countries in the global South so that they can begin developing necessary vaccines, testing and treatment for their citizens. For too long, access to healthcare has depended on the charity of rich countries which is neither predictable or sufficient. Justice requires ensuring countries must be able to protect the health and well-being of their own citizens especially in times of crisis. We must shift from an economy of exclusion to one that prioritizes life.

We Continue Putting People over Profits

Domestically, the appetite for COVID-19 prevention measures may be waning, but the disease is here to stay. We must not ignore it, and we must urge our leaders to diminish its ability to compromise health and take lives domestically and globally. Affordable access to shots, therapeutics, testing, and boosters are key as we continue to battle COVID-19 and any variants that emerge. It’s hard to accomplish this goal when the government funding that ushered us into our “new normal” is drying up.

Globally, even if the TRIPS waiver is granted, money will be needed to produce, transport, and administer the vaccine. Congress should act to address our obligation to take care of people at home and abroad in the supplemental COVID funding bill. Pfizer, Moderna, and other biopharmaceutical companies that maintain a monopoly on innovations created with public funds, cannot produce enough doses on their own to vaccinate the world. By protecting their monopoly, they deny billions of people access to vaccinations.

On May 12, 2022, the second Global COVID-19 Summit was held. Its co-hosts, the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal, called for global researchers, heads of states, philanthropic executives, and health experts to explore solutions — and make commitments — to “vaccinate the world, save lives now, and build better health security — for everyone, everywhere.” At the onset of the Summit, President Biden announced a major commitment to vaccinating the world’s lower-income citizens.

NETWORK believes this action, combined with the renewed and increased financial support from other global leaders in the West has the potential to be a game changer for global health and lives around the world. Through the National Institutes of Health, the United States has licensed 11 COVID-19 research tools and early-stage vaccine and diagnostic candidates to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) so that global manufacturers can use these technologies for the potential development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics to benefit people living in low- and middle-income countries.

According to the White House, new financial commitments were made at the Summit that totaled more than $3 billion in new funding above and beyond pledges made to date in 2022. This includes over $2 billion for immediate COVID-19 response and $962 million in commitments toward a new pandemic preparedness and global health security fund at the
World Bank.

See the White House’s account of global commitments made during the summit.

We know that the solution to COVID-19 lies in affordable and widespread access to vaccines, testing and therapeutics. We will continue raising our voices to the White House to oppose Big Pharma’s efforts to exacerbate vaccine inequity in the name of profit. We will continue to urge Congress to pass a supplemental funding bill that prioritizes funding for ongoing domestic and international COVID-19 needs; and we call on President Biden to continue working for an effective TRIPS waiver that makes lifesaving technology available to all.

Ending the Black Maternal Health Crisis Is a Moral Imperative

Ending the Black Maternal Health Crisis Is a Moral Imperative

Joan F. Neal
April 15, 2022

This week marks the five-year anniversary of Black Maternal Health Week in the United States. During Black Maternal Health Week, advocates and elected officials build community and draw awareness toward the maternal mortality epidemic that is sweeping our nation. At NETWORK, we believe that access to quality, affordable health care is a fundamental human right. It is our moral responsibility as Catholics to ensure accessible health care for all and eliminate racial and economic health disparities. As Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14) who is the co-chair and co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus stated, “This work is deeply personal” during an interfaith event NETWORK helped to organize.

Statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in February revealed that the Black maternal mortality crisis has only gotten worse. The data shows that the mortality rate for Black women rose by 26 percent in 2020—a rate three times greater than that of white women. In an interfaith event last month, Representative Alma Adams (NC-12) said, “Overlooking the pain of Black women in health care results from implicit bias and racism.” The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, especially for birthing people of color. This is unjust and sinful.

On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced a historic call to action to improve lives and health outcomes for birthing people, especially people of color, across the country. The Biden-Harris administration made a series of announcements that will work toward health equity including extending Medicaid and CHIP coverage for a full year after pregnancy in 11 additional states, and proposing “Birthing-Friendly” hospital designations to make improvements in maternal health outcomes. These announcements, along with the 12 key bills in the Momnibus Act, are vital steps forward to invest in maternal health and dismantle systemic racism in our health care systems.

Black mothers should not fear for their lives or their infant’s life while giving birth. As Representative Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) said during Wednesday’s Black Maternal Health Week event, “Birthing while Black should not be a death sentence.” NETWORK is proud to see the work done by the Biden-Harris administration to achieve healthcare equity for Black mothers, and continually supports the work of the Black Maternal Health Caucus to pass the Momnibus. With ongoing advocacy and a commitment to Build Anew, we can end the Black Maternal Mortality crisis in the United States. And we should do that.

Watch: Faith United to End the Black Maternal Health Crisis

Watch Live!

This event will go live Wednesday, March 9 at 3:00 PM Eastern.

Co-Sponsoring Organizations

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, American Muslim Health Professionals, United Church of Christ, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Council of Jewish Women, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Disciples Center for Public Witness, National Council of Churches, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, Bayard Rustin Liberation Initiative, Church World Service, Presbyterian Church  (USA) Office of Public Witness, The Episcopal Church, Sojourners, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies,  Poligon Education Fund

Unnecessary and Harmful: The Security Bars and Processing Rule

Unnecessary and Harmful: The Security Bars and Processing Rule

Ronnate Asirwatham
February 17, 2022

While the preposterous Title 42 expulsion policy and ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy continue at the border, we are very concerned that the Biden Administration would install yet another Trump Era policy – Security Bars and Processing Rule.

In December 2020, one of the Trump Administration’s last acts on immigration was to propose the Security Bars and Processing Rule to go into effect in 2021. This rule would label asylum seekers a “danger to the national security of the United States” merely because they transited through or come from a country with a communicable disease, or exhibit symptoms “consistent with” such disease. This is ANY communicable disease ranging from the flu, to cholera, to HIV AIDS — not just COVID-19. Under the rule, covered asylum seekers would be barred from refugee protection in the United States. Which violates both U.S. law and international treaty obligations; all but ensuring their deportation to persecution or torture.

The Biden administration extended the period of comment in 2021 so that it didn’t go into effect then. However, now it is closing the comment period on February 28th, and advocates fear that the administration will then work to make the rule permanent.

A plethora of experts have already highlighted grave concerns that this rule is both fatally flawed and “xenophobia masquerading as a public health measure.” In their comments leading public health experts, including at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and School of Nursing, found no public health justification for this sweeping ban. In a comment submitted by Physicians for Human Rights, Dr. Monik Jiménez of Harvard Medical School concluded that the targeting and classification of asylum seekers as a public health threat is “not based on sound epidemiological evidence.” Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian organization with 50-years’ experience responding to disease outbreaks, characterized the rule as “counterproductive” and noted that “public health measures work best when they are inclusive. They fail when vulnerable people, like migrants and asylum seekers, are excluded.”

As the African Human Rights Coalition commented, the rule “exacerbates racist tropes and myths of immigrants as carriers of disease.” Deeply rooted in eugenics, this ideology echoes throughout this rule. Many LGBTQ groups and HIV advocacy and treatment organizations also expressed alarm that the rule, similar to the discriminatory immigration ban on individuals living with HIV that was finally lifted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2010, would discriminate “against individuals on the basis of immigration status [and the] countries in which the person has lived or traveled” and would put particularly vulnerable populations such as “women, people from the LGBTQ+ community, and people from ethnic or religious minorities at risk.”

The rule violates U.S. law and treaty obligations, including those adopted by Congress through its passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus stressed in its comment that the rule would have “devastating and senseless consequences” for asylum seekers and violate the clear intent of Congress, “reiterated over and over for four decades,” “that the United States provide a meaningful and fair path to protection for those fleeing persecution.” The American Bar Association and the Round Table of Former Immigration Judges, a bipartisan group of dozens of former immigration judges, similarly objected to the rule as inconsistent with domestic and international law.

We urge the administration to withdraw this unjustifiable, illegal, and harmful rule. The Departments have repeatedly paused the rule’s implementation due to ongoing litigation against a related regulation and as they are “reviewing and reconsidering” the rule and “whether to modify or rescind” it. The Departments now request comment on whether to further delay implementation. Ample time to study the legality and impact this baseless ban would have on asylum seekers has already elapsed. There is no need for additional delay. The administration can and must swiftly and completely rescind the rule.

Comment here to join our call for the Administration to rescind the Security Bars and Processing Rule.

What’s In the Latest Build Back Better Framework?

What’s In the Latest Build Back Better Framework?

Audrey Carroll
November 10, 2021

On October 28, President Biden unveiled the framework for his Build Back Better Plan. The $1.75 trillion package includes key provisions such as permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit, closing the Medicaid coverage gap in the 12 non-expansion states, a $150 billion investment in affordable housing and vouchers, $100 billion for immigration system reforms, four weeks of paid family leave, and more.


Source: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/10/28/build-back-better-framework/

Here’s a breakdown of the NETWORK priorities included in the Build Back Better framework:

Health Care

*Expand Medicaid coverage in 12 non-expansion states
*Address the Black maternal health crisis

The $130 billion health care investments in the Build Back Better framework will expand Medicaid coverage to 4 million uninsured people in 12 non-expansion states. Medicaid expansion will help elders, rural communities, low-income communities, and other folks with health care accessibility issues receive care. Also included in the package are historic maternal health equity investments to address the Black maternal health crisis.

Tax Credits

*Permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit
*One-year extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit

The proposed Build Back Better framework includes permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit, and will provide more than 35 million households with the expanded Child Tax Credit of up to $3,600 per child for one year. Full refundability of the Child Tax Credit means that low-income families who do not typically file a tax return will still qualify for the credit and get the support they need.

The framework also extends the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for about 17 million low-wage workers. The American Rescue Plan tripled the credit for childless workers, many who  are essential workers, and the Build Back Better framework will extend this provision to work towards alleviating poverty.

Housing

*$150 billion for housing investments including: $25 billion in new rental assistance; $65 billion to preserve public housing infrastructure; and $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund 

President Biden’s plan would invest $150 billion in housing affordability, especially for rural communities. These investments will fund more than 1 million new affordable homes, rental assistance, public housing, and expand housing vouchers to hundreds of thousands of families in the U.S. This is one of the biggest affordable housing investments in history and will help eliminate the racial wealth and income gap by allowing first-generation homebuyers to build wealth.

Paid Leave

*Four weeks of paid family and medical leave

After initially being gutted from the original Build Back Better framework, four weeks of paid family and medical leave is now included thanks to the tireless advocacy of workers and families across the country. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world without a national paid family and medical leave program. A federal paid leave program will allow low-income workers and workers of color to access paid leave for the first time. Workers will no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or their family members.

Immigration

*Reforms to our immigration systems
*Work permits and deportation protection for undocumented people in the U.S. 10 years or longer

The Build Back Better framework includes a $100 billion investment for immigration systems reforms, contingent on a Senate parliamentarian ruling. While the current framework includes access to work permits and deportation protections for nearly 7 million undocumented people living in the U.S. for a decade or longer, it disappointingly does not include a pathway to citizenship Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers, and other essential workers despite strong bipartisan support.

Additional Investments in Children, Families, and Our Communities

In addition to these NETWORK priorities, additional investments the Build Back Better plan will establish universal and free preschool for more than 6 million 3- and 4-year-olds, expand access to high-quality, affordable child care, improve Medicaid coverage for home care services for seniors and people with disabilities while improving the quality of caregiving jobs, and provide $550 billion of investments in clean energy and other climate change initiatives.

How will the Build Back Better plan be paid for?

The Build Back Better plan will be paid for by requiring ultra-wealthy millionaires and billionaires and corporations to pay their fair share. The framework reverses some of the 2017 Trump-era tax cuts for the wealthy to raise revenue for families and workers in the U.S. The tax justice provisions include:

  • A surtax of 5% on personal income above $10 million, and 3% on income above $25 million.
  • A 15% minimum tax on corporate profits of large corporations with over $1 billion in profits.
  • A 1% tax on stock buybacks.
  • A 50% minimum tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations.
  • Closing loopholes that allow wealthy taxpayers to avoid Medicare taxes, and more.

Unfortunately, the Billionaires Income Tax was left out of the framework. With the tax changes in the Build Back Better framework, we will raise more than enough revenue to pay for the $1.75 trillion plan.

It’s time to pass Build Back Better!

The Build Back Better framework outlines transformational investments in workers and families that will work towards eliminating the racial wealth and income gap and building a new, equitable society. The framework falls short by not including a pathway to citizenship, but is overall a significant step towards dismantling systemic racism in our federal systems. House Democrats are currently working on moving the Build Back Better plan across the finish line before the end of the year. Email your Representative today or dial 888-738-3058 to call your Representative and tell them you support the Build Back Better framework!

Legislative Update: Build Back Better

Our Work to Pass Build Back Better Continues

Julia Morris
November 9, 2021

While we have been talking about the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill (H.R.3684) and Build Back Better Act for months, last Friday, the Bipartisan Infrastructure package passed the House and became law and a deal was struck between moderates and progressives on Build Back Better. While the Bipartisan Infrastructure plan includes important investments in affordable housing, safe drinking water, and broadband access, we need Congress to also pass the social investments in the Build Back Better plan to support families and communities. You can read more about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal on the White House website. 

Together, both bills will make a spectacular investment to improve lives, create good union jobs, add a more sustainable environment, and more! Last week’s vote, agreeing on the rule for Build Back Better, will pave the way for investment in the care economy, a clean environment, and having the wealthiest pay more of their fair share for it all. 

Five Democrats: Representatives Ed Case (HI-1), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Kathleen Rice (NY-4) and Kurt Schrader (OR-5); offered their tentative support for Build Back Better. If the cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is “consistent with the toplines for revenues and investments” outlined in the White House estimate, they will vote in support. With this commitment, the House went forward and passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill. This is in large part thanks to the Congressional Black Caucus’s two-step solution: passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill along with the rule governing floor debate for Build Back Better (H.Res.774). 

NETWORK applauds President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, the Progressive Caucus and Moderates who are moving the whole package, both bills, forward.  Now, we urge Congress to vote before Thanksgiving to begin making transformational investments that prioritize vulnerable communities.  As the Build Back Better plan continues advancing in the House, we have to keep pressure on Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, neither of whom have yet to support the plan publicly. 

Make your voice heard! Join us in emailing the Senate and House to show your support for Build Back Better. 

Or write a letter to the editor supporting the Build Back Better plan here! 

As Pope Francis said at the beginning of the pandemic, “it is necessary to build tomorrow, look to the future, and for this we need the commitment, strength and dedication of all.” 

NETWORK Urges Representatives to vote YES on the Build Back Better Act

NETWORK Urges all Members of Congress to vote YES on the Build Back Better Act

Julia Morris
November 4, 2021

Ahead of a vote on the Build Back Better Act (H.R.5376), NETWORK Executive Director Mary J. Novak sent a vote recommendation to the Hill urging Representatives to vote yes. This historic legislation reflects values inherent in Catholic Social Teaching as it embodies love of neighbor, care for vulnerable communities, and care for the earth. As importantly, this transformative bill requires those who have the most to contribute their fair share to advancing the common good.

The Build Back Better Act takes critical and necessary steps toward addressing long-standing injustices by:

  • Cutting childhood poverty in half by providing a permanently refundable Child Tax Credit and ensuring no worker is taxed into poverty by extending the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Expanding life-saving health care by closing the Medicaid coverage gap, investing in programs to end the Black maternal health crisis, extending premium tax credits to improve affordability for low-income workers and families, making the Childrens Health Insurance Program permanent, ensuring returning citizens have access to Medicaid, and making medicine more affordable.
  • Expanding Medicaid home care to keep older Americans and people with disabilities in their homes while paying care workers a fair wage.
  • Supporting working families navigate the challenges of raising children and taking care of loved ones when they are sick without risking their economic security by implementing a national paid family and medical leave program.
  •  Providing protections to some of our immigrant sisters and brothers.
  • Ensuring improved access to stable housing by expanding housing choice vouchers and invest in building new affordable housing; at the same time remediating years of deferred maintenance at public housing properties.
  • Closing the digital divide and expanding opportunity by making high-speed internet accessible and affordable for low-income urban and rural communities.

The time to act is now. NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice urges all elected officials to seize this moment as a critical opportunity to act faithfully and make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and all communities.

Read NETWORK’s Vote Recommendation on Build Back Better Act (H.R.5376).

Build Back Better Update – Call Your Representative Now!

Build Back Better Update – Call Your Representative Now!

Gina Kelley
November 3, 2021

With President Biden’s release of a detailed Build Back Better Framework last week, we are on the verge of a historic shift in our government’s priorities. Now, let’s get it done!

There is a good chance the House of Representatives will vote on the Build Back Better legislation THIS WEEK so please take action TODAY.

Update: Since this video was filmed, further negotiations have succeeded in securing four weeks of comprehensive paid family & medical leave to care for a new child, to care for a family member, and to care for your own medical needs in the House version of the Build Back Better framework. Paid leave will unite the country, keep us healthy and help every family in the U.S.

Call Your Representative Now: 888-738-3058
Tell them to vote Yes on the Build Back Better plan!

With your help, Congress will vote to shape our federal policies to align more closely with our values.

Increasing Access to Health Care for Millions in Build Back Better

Increasing Access to Health Care for Millions in Build Back Better

Julia Morris
September 22, 2021

This week, Congress is negotiating increasingly urgent policies to extend access to health care as part of the Build Back Better plan. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care is a growing concern for many living in the United States, especially the tens of millions of people who are uninsured. In communities already facing long-standing health disparities: low-income, elderly, Black, Brown, and Native American – increasing access to healthcare will save lives.

Access to health care is a moral issue; with some moderate Democrats and most Republicans looking to cut large portions of this bill it could result in adding to the toll of needless lives lost in the pandemic. Congress must include all of the healthcare provisions in the Build Back Better plan to ensure all people living in our nation have access to quality, affordable, and equitable health care.

Here are key policies to keep your eye on:

Extending Healthcare Subsidies in the American Rescue Plan

Coverage under the Affordable Care Act is too expensive for many families, especially with many in the U.S. seeing lower earnings in 2020. By extending the American Rescue Plan’s cost savings, we can lower health care costs for those getting coverage through ACA.

Medicaid Expansion in Four Key Areas

Millions of Americans, especially low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities rely on Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid in these four areas is key to addressing long-standing racial and economic disparities in coverage and access to care.

Non-Expansion States

A large portion of those who rely on Medicaid are spread throughout 12 states who have refused to expand Medicaid. This leaves two million people without insurance, in spite of support from a majority of states’ residents and overwhelming evidence that expansion will create significant improvements in coverage, health outcomes, and financial security.

Providing Medicaid Coverage for Incarcerated Individuals

Giving states the ability to expand Medicaid programs to cover incarcerated individuals 30 days before their release would tackle the disproportionately high rates of mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and chronic physical health conditions seen in people who have experienced incarceration. Closing care gaps would provide stability during this important transitional period.

Closing the Gap in Medicaid Funding to the U.S. Territories

Territories do not receive Medicaid funding, instead they are given a fixed block grant that often does not cover their healthcare needs. Congress needs to renew Medicaid funding in territories to ensure that everyone in the United States can access quality, affordable care no matter where they live.

End the Waiting Period for Immigrants to Access Medicaid and CHIP

Lawfully present immigrants must live in the U.S. for five years before being able to access Medicaid and CHIP. This harmful waiting period prevents millions of people and families from having access to quality, affordable care. We should not put limits on who is or is not deserving of health care.

Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act Investments

Historic investments from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act will save lives, build healthy families, end racial and ethnic maternal health disparities, and further birth equity in the United States. The Momnibus Act aims to do this by strengthening federal maternal health programs, will make federal funds permanently available for states to spend on expanded postpartum Medicaid and CHIP coverage to one year in every state, with full state plan benefits throughout pregnancy and the yearlong postpartum period.

Expanding home-based care options

Providing funding for home-based care options impacts the elderly community and people with disabilities. Expanding home-based care options also aims to address our nation’s growth in its elderly population — failing to invest in care will strain an already understaffed workforce of caregivers; stress children trying to care for their loved ones; and complicate retirement for millions.

As Pope Francis said: “A health service that is free and guarantees good service accessible to all … This precious good should not be lost. It must be maintained and everyone should be committed to this. Because everyone needs it … ” Failing to ensure that these healthcare measures make it through Congress would be detrimental to the lives of millions. Building back better after the incredible loss of the last two years is going to push us to reject thinking that encourages us to ignore the suffering of others.