WASHINGTON, D.C., JUlY 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urged Congress and the Obama administration to repair flaws to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued a decision upholding the law.
Signed into law in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires individuals not covered by employer or government-sponsored insurance plans to maintain minimal essential health insurance coverage or pay a penalty unless exempted for religious beliefs or financial hardship, a provision commonly referred to as the individual mandate. Certain provisions and mandates within the health care law have been a point of contention since its passing.
In a press release posted after the Supreme Court decision, the USCCB stated that for nearly a century they “have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.”
“Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB’s position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.”
The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of the Affordable Care Act for several reasons.
ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions. The USCCB noted that such a move contradicts longstanding federal policy. “The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of ‘high risk’ insurance pools that would have covered abortion,” the USCCB stated.
The U.S. bishops also found fault with the ACA’s lack of conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate within the ACA would force religious institutions and other employers to cover sterilization, contraception, and abortifacient drugs. Several rallies have been held nationwide opposing the HHS mandate.
The USCCB statement also noted that the Affordable Care Act fails to treat immigrant workers and their families in a fair manner, saying that it “leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money.”
“This undermines the Act’s stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need,” the statement read.
Concluding their statement, the USCCB stated that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision does not diminish the moral imperative of health care for all. The bishops also stated that it does not eliminate the need to correct the flaws outlined in their statement.
“We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws,” the U.S. bishops urged.