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Catholics Applaud New Health Care Legislation

Boston, MA - Catholic Democrats is supporting the passage of historic health care legislation by the U. S. Senate tomorrow morning. Passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a necessary step to establish much-needed reform to the nation's health care insurance system.

The pending legislation will expand eligibility for Medicaid, provide federal subsidies to low income individuals to purchase mandated health insurance on newly created health insurance exchanges, and eliminate the disqualifier of pre-exiting conditions for children immediately. An additional 31 million people will be insured by 2019. It will address the issue of runaway health care costs by reducing the growth of Medicaid payment rates for most services and require private insurance companies to use more of their premium revenues for health care services.

"Providing health care for all Americans has been a critical Catholic priority for half a century," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats. "This vote will be an essential step toward achieving that goal. Majority Leader Harry Reid and his 59 Democratic Senate colleagues will achieve a significant moral victory, appropriately on Christmas Eve, putting human need ahead of the horde of entrenched corporate financial interests."

"Under the leadership of Senator Casey, and consistent with policies advanced by President Obama to reduce abortion in our country, the bill authorizes and appropriates $250 million over 10 years for programs supporting pregnant women and increases and extends the adoption tax credit," said Whelan. "The bill also extends the Children's Health Insurance Program and provides children aging out of Medicaid in the foster care system to retain their health insurance."

Like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Democrats has supported maintaining the legal 'status quo' regarding the issue of abortion. So far, Congress has been unable to draft language that meets this standard and that is acceptable to advocates on either side of this divisive issue. We urge Congress to continue its work in developing a policy that is acceptable to both sides on this issue and to retain and strengthen provisions that help a woman bring her pregnancy to term.

"While the Senate bill is an imperfect piece of legislation, it opens the way for our nation to make health care a fundamental right. As Victoria Reggie Kennedy, wife of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, wrote in Sunday's Washington Post, 'we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good,'" said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats.

"As a human right, the final bill should provide universal health care to all - including a provision for all immigrants to purchase insurance on the exchanges," said Krueger. "It should also provide increased subsidies for low income individuals living near the poverty line. There should be immediate implementation eliminating the discrimination based on pre-existing conditions for adults - millions will be affected in the next four years. But while there is much more work that needs to be done to make this a just national policy, we have to start someplace. Caring for one another is perhaps the central principle of our Catholic faith, and this Senate bill moves the nation one giant step toward the Gospel imperative of providing healing for all of God's people."


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