In response to the Senate vote on the "skinny repeal" bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement:
"Despite the Senate's decision not to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last night, the task of reforming the healthcare system still remains. The current healthcare system is not financially sustainable, lacks full Hyde protections and conscience rights, and is inaccessible to many immigrants. Inaction will result in harm for too many people.
A moment has opened for Congress, and indeed all Americans, to set aside party and personal political interest and pursue the common good of our nation and its people, especially the most vulnerable. In order to be just, any bill for consideration must:
Protect the Medicaid program from changes that would harm millions of struggling Americans.
Protect the safety net from any other changes that harm the poor, immigrants, or any others at the margins.
Address the real probability of collapsing insurance markets and the corresponding loss of genuine affordability for those with limited means.
Provide full Hyde Amendment provisions and much-needed conscience protections.
Any final agreement that respects human life and dignity, honors conscience rights, and ensures that everyone can access health care that is comprehensive, high quality, and truly affordable deserves the support of all of us.
The greatness of our country is not measured by the well-being of the powerful but how we have cared for the 'least of these.' Congress can and should pass health care legislation that lives up to that greatness."