As the United States Senate prepares to again tackle health care reform this week, senators will have the voices of thousands of sisters to consider.
A letter signed by 7,150 women religious from all 50 states was delivered to the Senate on July 24, urging senators to vote against any bill that repeals the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or cuts Medicaid. The effort was coordinated by NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby.
"The mission of Catholic Sisters has always been to serve our nation's most vulnerable people," Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and the letter's author, said in a statement. "As such, we are united in opposition to the current Republican healthcare proposals."
A similar letter in 2010 was key to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
The letter states:
As Catholic women religious, we have witnessed firsthand the moral crisis of lack of quality, affordable healthcare in this country. We have seen early and avoidable deaths because of lack of insurance, prohibitive costs, and lack of access to quality care. We fought for the expansion of coverage in the Affordable Care Act because we saw the life-giving value of crucial healthcare programs such as Medicaid. This program covers over 70 million Americans, including children, pregnant women (and nearly half of all births in this country), people with disabilities, people struggling to get by, and senior citizens. Further, some of our fellow women religious rely on Medicaid in nursing homes when we can no longer care for our sisters at home.
The House of Representatives passed a bill in May to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act, but the Senate has twice failed to pass its own version. As of July 24, senators still did not know whether they would be voting on the House bill, one of the two Senate bills or a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.