Category Archives: Healthcare

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.

The McGrath Family’s Medicaid Story

Healthcare: The McGrath Family’s Story

NETWORK members Joe and Rita McGrath of Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania know firsthand why Medicaid is important. It has been critical in keeping their daughter alive and the family from bankruptcy. When preparing for the arrival of their first child, Joe and Rita received the news their daughter would be born with Down syndrome. Some people asked Joe and Rita if they were going to terminate the pregnancy, but for the McGraths, it was never a question. The first few months of Maura’s life were difficult, but the McGraths pushed through the dark days with the support of friends and family.  A little more than a year later Joe and Rita welcomed their second daughter, Michelle.

Now 17 years old, Maura continues to be the blessing her parents have always known her to be. In addition to Down syndrome, Maura is also nonverbal and has been diagnosed with autism and behavioral issues. As a minor living with disabilities, Maura qualifies for Medicaid benefits. Even though Joe and Rita both work, the cost of Maura’s healthcare is too expensive for their family to afford on their own.

An integral part of Maura’s wellbeing is the care Maura receives from her home health aide, Williamina. Taking care of Maura is a full time job and looking after her became more difficult for her mother, Rita, after she fought cancer. Additionally, Joe has Parkinson’s disease. Medicaid provided the necessary funds for the McGraths to hire assistance, and in the past seven years Williamina has become like a family member.

In addition to a home health aide, Maura needs eight different medications, medical equipment and supplies, and frequent doctor appointments. Medicaid covers these costs. Without Medicaid the McGrath family would be in financial ruin. The cost of Maura’s medicine alone would be several hundred dollars every month. These are expenses the McGraths, and many families in similar situations, would be unable to afford without the help of Medicaid.

Joe and Rita have experienced the life-changing impact of affordable healthcare, and there are millions of families like the McGraths that need Medicaid. Each of these human lives is more valuable than cutting costs or turning a profit. We are one another’s keeper and the care Medicaid recipients are entitled to is our shared responsibility.

On March 24, 2017, during debate over the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House of Representatives, Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-13) shared Maura McGrath’s story on the House floor and urged his fellow members to vote no on the AHCA.

We Come Alive Together

We Come Alive Together

Simone Campbell, SSS
April 27, 2017

As I write this, a few weeks ago Speaker Paul Ryan stated with righteous indignation that “well people shouldn’t have to pay for sick people.” This is one of his “principles” as he works to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I found this shocking because the whole principle of insurance is that you pay into it so that when you need to use it you can. Some have lower costs and some have higher costs, but all get the care they need when they need it. Costs average out over time. That is the whole theory of insurance and I thought Speaker Ryan would understand this “business model”. But apparently he does not.

The longer I pondered this misunderstanding of how insurance works, I came to see that there is even a deeper blindness. In the Republican commitment to individualism, they have lost sight of community and the common good. The biggest problem with the Republican effort at healthcare legislation is that it lacks the awareness that it is community which makes healthcare effective. It is not just about the individual. Healthcare is a communal good. This is why Pope Francis and his predecessors have clearly stated that healthcare is a human right.

Our nation’s hyper individualism is sucking the life out of our nation. Just focusing on myself is contrary to my Catholic faith and contrary to our Constitution. As I was pondering the Lenten readings, I was struck that all of the scriptures involve some aspect of community. No one is acting alone. This led me to an insight about Speaker Ryan’s flawed faith analysis.

The gospel reading on the second Sunday of Lent was the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus before the apostles. I love this story! Simon Peter both gets it wrong and gets it right. First, the truth of Jesus and the presence of Moses and Elijah are revealed to this small community. Peter and presumably the others are awed and surprised. Peter in his enthusiasm blurts out how good it is to be there and offers to “build a tent” as an altar for the three. But a bright cloud surrounds them and a voice says “This is my beloved…listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5) After a bit, Jesus helps the apostles stand up and tells them not to be afraid.

Reflecting on this scripture led me to know that we are called to see Jesus and the elders transfigured in our midst. In community we see the dazzling truth of the Divine’s presence and are urged to act. It made me think of our bus stop this past summer at Integrity House in Newark, New Jersey. It is a therapeutic community for people with substance use disorders. With guided interventions, staff and residents work together toward sobriety. We met with about 25 of their community members and heard about their struggles and hopes. Many residents previously had brushes with the law and had done jail time. They discovered that they could not do this work alone. Only in community could they be transformed. One woman said “It takes so much to fight addiction and depression! I can’t get rid of my demons by myself. I have to do my part, but alone I’m not enough.” She said by working in this community, however, she and others are being transformed.

While this was one woman’s story, I think it is also the story of our society that Speaker Ryan missed. It is not effective for us to be alone in our caring for our families, ourselves, or our communities. We are not made to be isolated. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that when I feel alone is when fear and division rise. We can only be “transfigured” in a group. Together we can be made new. This is the basis for sound, inclusive healthcare policy.

Let us remind our elected officials that we are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. If we embrace this truth and act in community, then we will have a healthcare system that works for all of us, not just the wealthy. Then we will be the people that we aspire to be—transformed and alive.

Originally published in Connection Magazine. Read the full issue here.

NETWORK Joins Moral Rally to Save Healthcare

NETWORK Joins Moral Rally for Healthcare Before House Vote

March 22, 2017

The day before the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Republican replacement, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), NETWORK joined with Rev. William Barber, II, Faith in Public Life, and clergy representing many faiths, to speak on the moral call for healthcare for all. Laura Peralta-Schulte, NETWORK Senior Government Relations Advocate, spoke; watch her remarks or read the transcript below:

Healthcare is a matter of life and death.

For Catholics, our Church’s teaching on healthcare is simple: Healthcare is fundamental right, not a privilege for those who can afford it.

It was Pope Benedict who summed it up best when he said, “it is the moral responsible of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.”

Our long and rich tradition is based on the Gospel’s call to love our neighbor.  We are called to imitate the practices of Christ who ministered to the sick, cared for those in poverty, and went directly to the people who were on the margins.

Our teaching is not a theory or an intellectual exercise.  It is the way we are called to live in this very broken and suffering world.

The Catholic Sisters who founded NETWORK over four decades ago have shown an unwavering commitment to justice for healthcare.  We believed the Affordable Care Act was a huge step in the right direction.

NETWORK’s Executive Director Sister Simone, boldly proclaimed it in 2010 creating the “Nun’s Letter” and we were hopefully, a little bit a part of how that bill got passed.

And you know what? They were right.  The law has made a profound difference as we’re here today and look at these beautiful babies.

So, Speaker Ryan tomorrow your bill is on the floor and you are taking our country in a very different direction. That bill will deny healthcare to millions of people.  That includes almost 50,000 women, children, and men in your own district who stand to lose healthcare.

At the same time, the Speaker’s bill gives the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, and the wealthiest families in America a big, fat tax cut paid for by none other than Medicaid.

Speaker Ryan we say to you today: This bill is shameful and violates the core beliefs of our Catholic faith.  Rather than providing a preferential option for the poor, it provides a preferential option for the wealthy and well connected.

It is not a faithful way forward.  We plead with House Members to reject this bill and the suffering it will produce.

Blessed Pope John Paul II said in his farewell address to America, “The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.”

Those comments were echoed by Pope Francis in his visit to Washington when he said, “You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.

Tomorrow, House Members have a choice.  Whose side will they chose? Will they stand with the 24 million Americans who will lose coverage under this bill, or not?

Speaker Ryan: You are called by faith to do better than this. In this season of Lent, we pray you and House Members will reject this bill for the health and well-being of the people you pledged to represent.

Blog: NETWORK Evaluates New Healthcare Bill

NETWORK Evaluates New Healthcare Bill

Lucas Allen
March 7, 2017

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice released our “10 Commandments of Healthcare,” a set of principles grounded in Christian faith and a concern for the common good. We know that healthcare is a human right that is essential for a dignified life, so each of these commandments seeks to protect that right to healthcare and provide health security for all.  Each of these principles form the fabric of a just healthcare system that cares for people living in or near poverty.

NETWORK’s test for any ACA replacement bill is simple: Does the bill protect access to quality, affordable, equitable healthcare for vulnerable communities? After reviewing the House GOP replacement bill, the answer is a resounding no. Instead of providing greater health security, the bill increases costs for older and sicker patients and drastically cuts the Medicaid program, all while providing huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations and individuals. This is not the faithful way forward and must be rejected.

Two House committees will begin “marking up” the health bill tomorrow. Democratic members of the Committees will offer amendments to expand coverage and protect Medicaid during the process but it is not anticipated they will be successful. The bill would then move to the Budget Committee next week then finally to the House floor likely the week of March 20th.

It is imperative that advocates voice opposition to the current form of the bill because silence will be interpreted as satisfaction.  Action now will impact the direction of the bill in the House and in the Senate, the body advocates believe is our best chance of stopping a bad bill.

How Does the GOP Bill Stack Up Against the 10 Commandments of Healthcare?

The following is a comparison of the House GOP plan – the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – with the principles outlined in the 10 Commandments of Healthcare.

1. Thou shalt provide affordable insurance and the same benefits to all currently covered under the Affordable Care Act.

FAILED: The AHCA would cause millions of people to lose access to health coverage. Policy changes would particularly harm people who are older, sicker, and less wealthy.

2. Thou shalt continue to allow children under the age of 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance.

PASSED: The bill maintains the ACA provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan through age 26.

3. Thou shalt ensure that insurance premiums and cost sharing are truly affordable to all.

FAILED: This plan would make premiums and cost sharing far less affordable for millions of Americans. It repeals the ACA tax credits that were used by more than 10 million families in 2016, and offers smaller tax credits that do not adjust by income.

4. Thou shalt expand Medicaid to better serve vulnerable people in our nation.

FAILED: While the AHCA does not end the Medicaid expansion immediately, it would freeze enrollment in the year 2020. At that point, states would no longer be able to sign new enrollees up for the program, reversing the unprecedented coverage gains made since the passage of the ACA.  Not only does the AHCA end Medicaid expansion, but it threatens the entire Medicaid program with massive cuts.

5. Thou shalt not undercut the structure or undermine the purpose of Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare funding.

FAILED: The AHCA would end Medicaid as we know it in order to cut and shift Medicaid funding to tax breaks for the wealthy. It converts Medicaid to a per-capita cap, which would cap funds and force states to cut eligibility and benefits for the millions of children and families, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid today.

6. Thou shalt create effective mechanisms of accountability for insurance companies and not allow them to have annual or lifetime caps on expenditures.

HALF-FAILED: While the AHCA keeps the ACA ban on annual and lifetime limits, it removes many mechanism of accountability for insurance companies.

7. Thou shalt not allow insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.

HALF-FAILED: The AHCA does not repeal the ACA ban on discriminating people with pre-existing conditions, but it makes it more difficult for people who have failed to maintain continuous coverage to get insurance. This will disproportionately impact people with pre-existing conditions and leave many with higher premiums.

8. Thou shalt not allow insurance companies to discriminate against women, the elderly, and people in poverty.

FAILED: The AHCA would allow insurers to charger older enrollees far more, which could leave the elderly with prohibitively expensive premiums on the individual market. It would also impose harsh penalties on people who fail to maintain continuous health care coverage, which would disproportionately affect people in poverty. People who struggle to get affordable coverage should be assisted, not punished and locked out of the insurance market.

9. Thou shalt provide adequate assistance for people enrolling and using their health coverage.

FAILED: The AHCA does not provide assistance for people enrolling, but actually makes it more expensive for people to enroll if they have gone without insurance for 63 days. This could lock out people who have lost coverage and want to enroll.

10. Thou shalt continue to ensure reasonable revenue is in the federal budget to pay for life-sustaining healthcare for all.

FAILED: The House GOP bill gives a massive $525 billion dollar tax breaks to the very wealthiest and corporations with the richest 400 families receiving a 7 million dollar tax break a year.  Meanwhile, there are $200 billion new taxes on working families.  The bill has not been officially scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office although budget experts believe there will be significantly less revenue generated to assist low income individuals and families.

ACA Replacement Takes Us Farther from Healthcare for All

ACA Replacement Takes Us Farther from Healthcare for All

Lucas Allen
January 26, 2017

Over the past few weeks, members of Congress have heard our voices loud and clear. Thanks to over 10,000 calls from NETWORK members and people of faith in all 50 states, Senators know that it is not okay to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement in place. Such a move would recklessly play politics with people’s lives and threaten access to healthcare for millions of Americans with no reassurance of an adequate replacement.

We are grateful that many Republican Senators have spoken out and urged their party to come up with a replacement plan before they repeal the ACA. Our calls and engagement helped make this happen. Last week, we met with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), and appreciate her role as a voice of reason reigning in partisanship and ideological extremism to search for common ground. On Monday, Senator Collins and Senator Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Patient Freedom Act of 2017 to advance the conversation of how to constructively move the discussion forward.

While we welcome the replacement proposal, we have said from the start that any replacement must be suitable and build on the progress of the ACA. We would only support a replacement or reform that is equitable, insures just as many or more Americans, and is more affordable for people. Our faith teaches that healthcare is a human right, and we would not support any replacement plan that takes coverage away from people or leaves people experiencing poverty or sickness out in the cold.

The ACA has provided over 20 million Americans with access to healthcare, promoted racial and gender equity in our healthcare system, and improved the lives and quality of coverage of many more. More Americans have health insurance than at any point in our nation’s history, and now is not the time to go backward. While we are glad that Senate Republicans have proposed a plan, the so-called Patient Freedom Act does not meet our criteria for a replacement we could support. It does not take care of those at the economic margins of our society, and many people covered under the ACA would not be able to keep their coverage. More people would be left without access to quality, affordable healthcare.

We call on Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell to slow down their fast-track process of repealing the ACA and to give the American people the time they deserve to examine the best way forward. This healthcare policy will impact almost every family and will have even greater implications for those experiencing poverty and vulnerability, so we owe it to all of our sisters and brothers to take a look at this policy, analyze it, and have our voices heard. We also call on you, our partners and fellow advocates, to share your story and perspective with us and with your elected officials.

Action Items

Advent Reflection: Waiting for the One Who Brings Life Abundantly

Advent Reflection:
Waiting for the One who Brings Life Abundantly

Lucas Allen
December 13, 2016

The season of Advent is full of hope and anticipation for the birth of Jesus, who “came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Throughout the Gospels, Jesus models this abundant life by healing the sick with boundless compassion, especially for those experiencing poverty or exclusion.

Jesus’s healing example also calls me to imagine what our country and healthcare system could be if we took this message of abundant life and boundless compassion to heart. For our society to have life and have it abundantly, health must be a universal right, not a consumer good or a privilege for those who can afford it. Financial circumstances, zip code, race, ethnicity, or other factors should not influence access to life-saving medical care. A life-affirming healthcare system would provide universal coverage for the common good, with special concern for people who are vulnerable.

In this season of hope, it must be noted that our country has been moving closer to this vision. Never before have so many Americans had health insurance; in 2015 we achieved the lowest uninsured rate and the lowest child uninsured rate in history. Programs such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act have created a preferential option for those who would be left without care in a purely market-oriented health system. My family and I have known the fear of rising medical expenses and have benefited from these policies that lead to a healthier society.

As Jesus announced his arrival to John the Baptist saying: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear” (Matthew 11:5), maybe our progress in living out His teachings should be measured by whether those experiencing poverty or sickness have access to care as a fundamental right. This is the nation I hope for, and the one we are pushing for at NETWORK: one that extends Jesus’s healing touch to all.

So while I wait in hope for the humble birth of the one who came that we might have abundant life, I remain cognizant of the injustices that keep those born into poverty today from enjoying healthy, abundant life. At this crucial time, I remain hopeful that we will resist the path of putting profit over people and choose Jesus’s path of abundant life.