Washington, D.C., March 21, 2017 — The Ecumenical Poverty Initiative has released a statement opposing the American Health Care Act noting the devastating impact the bill, as written, would have on the poor and most vulnerable in our nation. The AHCA, which would replace the Affordable Care Act, eliminates the Medicaid expansion, ends the pre-existing condition mandate, gets rid of subsidies, limits the flexibility of the program with a per capita cap and gives substantial tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while putting the lives of the most vulnerable in harm’s way. An estimated 24 million people would lose health care coverage under the plan.
According to the statement, the AHCA is “in essence a “Death Bill” that would put the lives of low and moderate income families, the elderly, children and people with disabilities at risk in order for the wealthiest Americans to get a tax break. This is both unjust and unacceptable.”
The statement goes on to say, “Rather than being an ‘act of mercy,’ as described by Congressman Ryan, this merciless bill is an act of blatant cruelty perpetuated against God’s most vulnerable people…This bill stands in stark contradiction to the principles of our faith and that is why we must stand against it.”
The entire content of the statement is posted below. The bill is scheduled to be voted on by the House of Representatives on Thursday, March 23.
Statement on American Health Care Act
Washington, D.C., March 21, 2017—The Ecumenical Poverty Initiative is profoundly disturbed and deeply concerned about the American Health Care Act put forward by House Speaker Paul Ryan to replace the Affordable Care Act and the devastating impacts it would have on the lives and well-being of the most vulnerable in our nation. The AHCA, which proposes $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next decade and will result in millions of people losing health insurance coverage, is not simply an inadequate replacement for the Affordable Care Act. It is in essence a “Death Bill” that would put the lives of low and moderate income families, the elderly, children and people with disabilities at risk in order for the wealthiest Americans to get a tax break. This is both unjust and unacceptable.
By eliminating Medicaid expansion, ending the mandate to cover pre-existing conditions, getting rid of subsidies and imposing a per capita cap on payments to the states; the AHCA will put the poorest and most vulnerable among us in harm’s way and without critical health care coverage. In addition, according to the Congressional Budget Office, premiums will dramatically increase for millions of people, including the most vulnerable, because of the large cuts in tax credits. Only the wealthiest in our nation, insurers and pharmaceutical companies will benefit from this plan, leaving those most in need with their lives and well-being hanging in the balance. Rather than being an “act of mercy,” as described by Congressman Ryan, this merciless bill is an act of blatant cruelty perpetuated against God’s most vulnerable people.
Our Christian faith teaches us to care for the sick and not to burden the poor, widow, orphans or the most vulnerable in our midst. In Matthew 25, Jesus admonishes us that whatever is done to the “least of these” is as if it were done to him, celebrating those who care for those in need while rebuking those who do not. This bill stands in stark contradiction to the principles of our faith and that is why we must stand against it.
We call on all people of faith and good will to stand with us in strong opposition to the American Health Care Act and we urge members of Congress to vote against this bill, which will put the lives of upwards of 24 million Americans in jeopardy.