Category Archives: Healthcare

Interfaith Healthcare Coalition Urges a Vote on Alexander-Murray Bill

Interfaith Healthcare Coalition Urges a Vote on Alexander-Murray Bill

Lucas Allen
October 25, 2017

This week, NETWORK joined the Interfaith Healthcare Coalition in sending a letter to the Senate Majority and Minority leaders endorsing the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017 negotiated by Senators Alexander and Murray and urging Congress to pass it without delay. The full text of the letter can be read below or downloaded as a PDF:


Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Chairman Alexander, and Ranking Member Murray:

We write to you as religious organizations, congregational denominations, and faith traditions about the need to take quick, bipartisan action to stabilize the individual health insurance market. Our scriptures affirm our moral responsibility to ensure all may live with dignity and the opportunity to recognize their full potential. Access to affordable, quality health care should not and cannot be a privilege; it is a requirement rooted in faith to protect the life and dignity of every person.

We are encouraged and supportive of the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017 negotiated by Senators Alexander and Murray and urge Congress to pass it without delay.
Our faith communities appreciate the value of open dialogue across difference. It is past time for Congress to move away from the partisanship and divisiveness that has plagued this issue and instead move forward in a collaborative and bipartisan manner. The individual market and those who rely on it to purchase coverage are facing instability and rising premiums, and this bill can provide relief. We call on Congress to quickly pass this bill to:

  1. Continue the Cost Sharing Reduction payments for two years to help provide multi-year stability. These payments are crucial for stabilizing the marketplace and they help people with low incomes afford copayments, deductibles, and other health care expenses;
  2. Restore funding for ACA outreach, education, and enrollment; and
  3. Streamline the section 1332 state waiver process to give states meaningful flexibility while maintaining guardrails to protect low income people, those with serious health conditions, and other vulnerable populations.

While this bipartisan package does not address all our concerns regarding access to quality, affordable health care in this nation, it represents a necessary and constructive first step to address the immediate problems within the individual market. We urge you to pass it without delay and are praying for your success.

Sincerely,

American Muslim Health Professionals
Bread for the World
Disciples Center for Public Witness (Disciples of Christ)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Faith that Heals Ministries, Tennessee Conference United Methodist Church
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Islamic Society of North America
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Methodist Federation for Social Action
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women, Inc.
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Pax Christi USA
PC(USA) Office of Public Witness
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Institute Justice Team
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, National Council of the United States
The Episcopal Church
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

Competing Healthcare Visions

Competing Healthcare Visions

Lucas Allen
September 15, 2017

On September 13, two visions of healthcare were on display in the U.S. Senate. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced yet another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take health coverage away from tens of millions of Americans by cutting Medicaid and ACA funding. On the same day, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and 16 Democratic cosponsors introduced “Medicare for all” legislation, which after a four year transition would create a national health insurance system that would cover all people in the U.S.

The Medicare for All Act of 2017 is an aspirational bill that reflects a moral vision of healthcare as a right, not a privilege or a consumer good available to those who can afford it. It would expand Medicare to all ages and broaden the benefits to include comprehensive vision and dental care with zero premiums, copays, and deductibles for all. With Republican majorities in the House and Senate opposing the bill, it has no chance of passage in the near future. As an organizing tool and a messaging bill, however, the bill is a welcome addition that shows one way our nation could guarantee quality, affordable healthcare for all.

The new ACA repeal proposal led by Senators Cassidy and Graham would do quite the opposite. Under the familiar guise of state flexibility, it would replace the ACA’s marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion funding with a shrinking block grant. In addition, it includes a per-capita cap on Medicaid that would increasingly cut the program over time. While it has not yet been analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office, it is likely that such deep cuts would cause millions to lose health coverage over time. After months of partisan repeal attempts have failed and given way to bipartisan conversations, this return to a harmful repeal proposal is unfortunate. The Cassidy Graham bill does not appear to have the votes to pass at this time, but it is important to remain vigilant.

With the number of uninsured Americans at an all-time low of 28.1 million, policies that would set us back and cause more to go uninsured are not acceptable. We must mend the gaps in access to healthcare so that everybody has access to the quality, affordable healthcare they need to thrive. As Pope Francis said, “health is not a consumer good, but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege.”  The Medicare for All Act reflects this moral vision of healthcare as a right, but the latest ACA repeal bill does not.

Sr. Simone responds to Bannon’s Comments about Immigrants and the Church

Sr. Simone responds to Steve Bannon’s Comments about Immigrants and the Church

September 7, 2017

 

 

Trump Administration Announces ACA Funding Cuts

Trump Administration Announces ACA Funding Cuts

Lucas Allen
September 1, 2017

On August 31, the Trump administration announced that they will slash funding for enrollment assistance, outreach, and education for the Affordable Care Act by 90%. This sabotage of the ACA marketplace will result in fewer people signing up for coverage under the ACA and higher premiums for those who do.

The Washington Post reports:

“The Trump administration is gutting federal funds that help Americans sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, cutting grants to grass-roots groups that assist with enrollment by 40 percent and slashing an advertising budget from $100 million to $10 million.

The announcement late Thursday afternoon, just nine weeks before the start of the fifth annual enrollment season, is the first indication of how an administration determined to overturn the health-care law will oversee the window for new and returning consumers buying coverage for 2018.”

Read more: Trump officials slash advertising, grants to help Americans get Affordable Care Act insurance

Once again, the Administration is putting politics above people rather than legislating for the common good. This decision will cause more people to struggle to access affordable healthcare and fails to mend the gaps in access to healthcare in our country.

NETWORK Asks Senators to Vote No on ACA Repeal

Vote Recommendation: No to ACA Repeal

Laura Peralta Schulte
July 25, 2017

Today, Sister Simone and the NETWORK Government Relations team sent a vote recommendation to all U.S. Senators urging them to vote no to any legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid. Read the full text of the letter below: 

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators:

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice urges you to vote NO on the motion to proceed for any vote to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. We believe this legislation is misguided and beyond repair, so we urge you to vote no on the motion to proceed.

From our faith communities and our travels around the country listening to the needs of people, we know that access to healthcare is a matter of life and death. Any of the GOP proposals would lead to at least 15 million more uninsured by next year and at least 22 million more uninsured within the decade. Many of these new uninsured will be displaced by deep cuts to the Medicaid program, which is an essential source of care for millions of children, seniors, people with disabilities, and people experiencing poverty in our nation. This is far from the Gospel mandate to care for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers.

No amendment to add funds or change the per capita cap growth rate will fix the fundamental flaw of the BCRA or other proposals. At its core this strategy is a large tax cut that is paid for by deeply cutting Medicaid and other supports, taking from the very people our faith tells us to care for. This bill has lost sight of community and the common good.

Our faith teaches that healthcare is a communal good and a right that all must enjoy to live in dignity. We urge you instead to work toward the common good by expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare through an open and bipartisan process.

This dangerous legislation is not the faithful way forward and must be prevented from proceeding. We will score it in our 2017 voting record. Stand by Gospel principles and vote NO on the motion to proceed.

Sincerely,

Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Blog: We Won’t Be Silent Anymore

We Won’t Be Silent Anymore

23 Hours of Prayer, Testimonies, and Protest
Brie Baumert
July 5, 2017

Last Wednesday, NETWORK joined dozens of religious denominations and organizations in a 23-hour interfaith prayer vigil for healthcare. Together we voiced our opposition to the Senate Healthcare bill – the Better Care Reconciliation Act- a bill that makes immoral cuts to Medicaid and would drastically change the lives of millions of people, especially those who are marginalized in our communities. As people of faith, it is our responsibility to fight for and defend the dignity of all people, especially those on the margins of our society, and to advocate for God’s belief in the worth of all people to have an abundant and healthy life.

As a NETWORK intern, I’ve been so inspired by the work that faith organizations are doing to advocate for the dignity of all God’s children. These 23 hours were unlike anything I have seen before. I saw pain, passion, and promise. I witnessed vulnerability, I experienced agony and anger, and I felt the fear of what this new healthcare bill could mean for loved ones. For 23 hours, people of different faiths were all united in the mission to love our neighbor and to pray, sing, and speak out against the Senate and House versions of a new healthcare bill.

As Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”  God’s presence was apparent on that Capitol lawn- in the people present, in the stories shared, in the songs chanted, in the prayers cried out, in the silence of the hearts. While we were surrounded by various powerful political institutions, the true power that night was on the patch of grass that held the hearts of those advocating for the human right of healthcare.

For 23 hours, people stayed awake advocating for Americans who depend on Medicaid coverage for their healthcare. As I sat there hearing story after story of people whose lives will be forever changed by the Better Care Reconciliation Act, it became clear that we are not alone. To those who have or are currently suffering from mental or physical illnesses, and to those who have a loved one who is suffering from mental or physical illness, we stand with you. Never forget your inherent dignity and worth as a child of God.

As people of faith, we all stand together, to advocate for our sisters and brothers. We have the power of God’s love and the power of our community, and that is far greater than any institutional power. Despite all the evident pain and fear, hope prevailed. Hope was there when the sun rose in the morning and cast a beautiful sunrise. I was reminded that we are the hope we need, we are the change we seek. That hope, that fire that burned inside all of us is as important now as ever.

This fight is far from over. For all of those who feel called, I urge you to keep sharing your stories. God doesn’t call us to be ineffective. God calls us to love our neighbors, to advocate for those who are unable to, to stand up for those who are hurting and suffering. God calls us to be a voice of truth, to speak out against this sinful healthcare bill that will take the lives of thousands of people and change the lives of millions of people forever. As Rev. J William Barber II exclaimed, “Jesus said, ‘When I was sick, you cared for me.’ He didn’t say, ‘When I was sick, you cared for some of me.’” As people of faith, we are called to be truth-seekers. We are called to share our stories. We are called to resist any policy that brings harm to our sisters and brothers.

We will not be silent anymore.

Brie Baumert is a summer intern with the NETWORK Grassroots Mobilization team.

The Healthcare Fight Still Isn’t Over

The Healthcare Fight Still Isn’t Over

Twitter Healthcare Graphic

Good news: due to incredible pressure from activists around the country like you, Senator McConnell pushed back a vote on healthcare until after the July 4 recess. But we can’t let this delay lead to passage like it did in the House — we’ve got to keep the pressure on! 

Call your Senators at 1-888-738-3058 NOW
to oppose the GOP health plan and protect Medicaid.
Call twice to reach both Senators.

These calls matter whether your Senators are Republicans or Democrats! Here are a few ways you can make noise in your community over the next few days:

  1. Keep making phone calls, and enourage anyone you know in Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, or West Virginia to make their calls as well.
  2. Read the news and write Letters to the Editor. These short messages should clearly state your opposition to Medicaid cuts and the Senate health proposals, and mention your Senator(s) by name. See our tips for getting your LTE published on NETWORK’s website, and send us published pieces at info@networklobby.org.
  3. Meet with your Senator at their office, town hall, 4th of July event, or elsewhere. Bring these:
  4. Post on social media! It sounds silly, but Senators and reporters alike are watching what’s being said online. Find your Senator on Facebook and Twitter, and let them know your thoughts using #Faith4Medicaid, #SaveMedicaid, and #ProtectOurCare. Or share NETWORK’s posts on Facebook or Twitter. You may want to share these graphics:

Medicaid’s Importance for My Family

Medicaid’s Importance for My Family

Janet Miller Rife
June 27, 2017

In 1985, I had never heard of Medicaid.  That year my son Brian, at age 20, sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash. Our family was plunged into crisis when we first saw Brian, intubated and unresponsive at Shock Trauma in Baltimore, given minimal chance to survive. Then after five weeks of dramatic ups and downs, spinal meningitis put him back into a coma for four months. As we hoped and prayed for him to come back to us, we were shocked to learn that if he improved, our health insurance had no coverage for rehabilitation.  I soon learned that Medicaid could help Brian, a college student without financial resources of his own. Mt. Vernon Hospital had applied to be a Medicaid provider, but that process took six months.  I learned that the Governor of Virginia had the authority to expedite the application.

Brian at 17. 1982

After sending letters to Governor Baliles from Brian’s primary nurse, parish and neighborhood friends, and even our son Eric’s 8th grade English class, we heard that Mt. Vernon Hospital would take Brian for rehabilitation with Medicaid coverage.  It felt like a miracle!

Once Brian’s inpatient rehab was complete and he walked triumphantly out of Mt. Vernon Hospital with his canes, he received his healthcare through our family insurance.  He lived at home until the mid-90’s and had various job trials, but no employment.  He DID find a mission for himself, giving prevention talks to several thousand high school students.  He was lauded in the community for his message:  “Don’t Drink and Drive – Wear Your Seatbelts.”  We believed he saved lives.  In 1995 when his youngest brother left for college, Brian wanted to live on his own.

Brian practicing walking with neighbor Ken, 1987

We secured a Section 8 subsidized apartment, with part time assistance. But then another brain infection required additional neurosurgery, and Brian was not well enough to return to the apartment, a heartbreaking development for all of us. Spending six months in a nursing home was difficult for Brian and painful for us, but Medicaid paid for the cost of his stay. With perseverance and help from Brain Injury Services, we moved Brian back into an apartment, with Medicaid funding a live-in assistant – much better for him and more cost-effective.

In 2003, Brian became eligible for the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Medicaid Waiver, and moved to his current two-bedroom apartment where two men from Ghana assist him, one five days, one two days.  He requires full-time care now because he has a high risk of falling and his impairments have become more severe over the years.  This stable, community-based arrangement has been very good for Brian who is now 52, and has given us considerable peace of mind.

Brian and his assistant Michael at Camp McCoy in 2015.

It’s now 32 years since Brian’s injury.  Paying for his housing and round-the-clock care remains as important as ever, and recent political developments are very concerning to our family. The Trump administration’s budget proposal cuts over $800 billion from Medicaid over 10 years. The House and Senate healthcare bills would institute per capita caps for Medicaid spending, resulting in a shortfall of hundreds of billions of dollars, leaving states to pay the difference themselves or reduce access to Medicaid.

Today, there are thousands of individuals in Virginia alone who have complex physical and intellectual disabilities similar to Brian’s, some of whom receive services paid for through Medicaid and thousands more who are on waiting lists to receive services.  I know so many of these men, women, children and their families.  Our Catholic faith teaches us that every person belongs to a single and interconnected human family.  We must continue to speak out against plans to take away these lifelines for our brothers and sisters.

Janet Miller Rife is a member of the Northern Virginia NETWORK Advocates Team.

Time for Moral Leadership on Medicaid from So-Called ‘Pro-Life’ Senate Republicans

Time for Moral Leadership on Medicaid from So-Called ‘Pro-Life’ Senate Republicans

Simone Campbell, SSS
June 26, 2017

Originally published at www.thehill.com.

When people hear that I, a Catholic Sister, work on healthcare in Washington, D.C., I’m met with mixed reactions. There is no doubt — many Americans have lots of feelings about the myriad issues under the healthcare umbrella. For me, it boils down to making sure that as many people as possible have access to life-saving healthcare coverage.

In 2010, I made sure that Congress knew that passing the Affordable Care Act was part of a pro-life stance, and now, over 20 million more Americans are covered because of this life-saving bill! But now, as Senate Republicans seek to rush through a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the most secretive manner, I want to call their bluff on their proclaimed pro-life stance.

I am outraged to see allegedly pro-life Republicans put forward a healthcare bill that will strip millions of people of their healthcare. Not only that, but this bill preys on the most vulnerable! This is antithetical to any faith. The House and Senate healthcare proposals are the antithesis of a pro-life stance and needs to be named as such. People will lose their lives if this bill becomes law.

It used to be very difficult for women to find insurance coverage for pre-natal and maternity care. Under current law, maternal health (pregnancy and postpartum services) is an essential benefit, which insurers must offer without charging extra. This is a pro-life benefit — but the GOP is set to eliminate the essential health benefits, including maternity care, for millions of expecting mothers.

This bill that the Senate is days away from voting on would bring us back to a time when “maternity riders” forced women to pay more than many could afford just to bring a child into the world.” This is not pro-life.

Even worse, the Republicans plan to cut and cap Medicaid funding for people with disabilities and those living below the poverty level in our nation. But what many don’t know is that 45 percent of births in the United States are paid for by Medicaid!

The Senate bill ends Medicaid as we know it, and as a result these “pro-life” members of Congress are actually disregarding the needs of moms and their newborn children. Supporting Medicaid funding is a pro-life stance.

Further, Medicaid dollars benefit seniors residing in nursing homes, including many Catholic Sisters who have served their entire lives tending to the most vulnerable. It also affects people with disabilities, whose care can be too expensive for a family to manage. But, Republican efforts to cut Medicaid funding arbitrarily will jeopardize their lives and wellbeing. Taking money away from seniors, people in poverty and people with disabilities is wrong. Everyone has a right to live in dignity.

I fight for healthcare because I fight for the lives of our people. But, I am angry that by moving ahead with their American Health Care Act spin-off, Republican Senators are only concerned with lining the pockets of the wealthiest and are doing so at the expense of Medicaid and our most vulnerable people. If Republicans are truly pro-life, then they will place people, not corporate interests, at the center of their decision-making. And, when people are healthier, we all do better.

So my pro-life colleagues: Listen up. To be pro-life requires us to care about ALL of life, not just birth or death. Mothers and their infants need medical coverage. The disabled and the elderly need the promise that they can live in dignity for their entire natural life. This means that we must not cap individual or state expenditures for Medicaid or remove services from the defined benefits. It also means that we must not block grant Medicaid to the states or institute a per capita cap.

As the richest nation on earth, we can care for all of life if we choose. All other developed nations have accomplished it. Do we have the will to put our people over yet more tax cuts for the 1 percent? As a person of faith, I say that we must. It is a mandate of my faith and a call to the common good. So Senators, please, reject the so-called “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” and let’s have a real conversation that doesn’t include 23 million Americans losing their healthcare.

At a Critical Time, NETWORK Advocates for Healthcare

At a Critical Time, NETWORK Advocates for Healthcare

Lily Ryan
June 26, 2017

Last week, NETWORK joined members of Congress, healthcare advocates, and members of the faith community at a rally for healthcare outside the Senate. The collection of banners and signs in the crowd presented a colorful visual of the groups who had turned out to voice their opposition to legislation that would seek to strip coverage from the neediest Americans.

A group of mothers and children, some dressed up as super heroes, greeted speaker after speaker as they told the stories of a few of the 23 million people who face losing their insurance under the proposed GOP legislation. Members of the Senate’s Democratic minority urged the crowd to fight reductions in Medicaid and crucial aspects of the ACA and made forceful appeals to moderate Republicans to reject the legislation.

The stories from the rally were on my mind when the all-white, all-male Republican healthcare working group released the Senate bill Thursday. Unsurprisingly but still disappointingly, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” is just as damaging as the AHCA.

These bills would take us back as a country and sacrifice the needs of the sick, the elderly, and children to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. The Republican plan to dismantle the health care for millions of Americans does nothing to address existing problems with our current healthcare system and would exacerbate inequities in health coverage and access.

The faith community has a special role to play in resisting “TrumpCare,” as it is uniquely positioned to lift up the values of people of faith in the context of political decisions that will impact ordinary people. NETWORK is part of an interfaith coalition leading communities of faith across the country in lobbying members of Congress to protect the lives of those who depend on Medicaid and all whose healthcare is threatened by this legislation.

At the rally, NETWORK carried a small likeness of Pope Francis. Our little pope held a sign that said “Health is not a consumer good but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege.” This reflects Pope Francis’ constant reminders to live and act in a way that reflects the mutuality of all people.

It is our responsibility to take up Pope Francis’s challenge to seek the Kingdom of God on earth by fighting for policies that uphold the dignity of all people, particularly those at the margins of society. Together with people of faith across the country, we are standing up for healthcare and opposing a healthcare bill that takes from millions to give to the few.

Lily Ryan is a summer intern with the NETWORK Communications team.