The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling on Congress to exercise caution as the Senate approaches a vote on the Republican Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill.
"As you consider the Graham-Cassidy legislation as a possible replacement for the Affordable Care Act, we urge you to think of the harm that will be caused to poor and vulnerable people and amend the legislation while retaining its positive features," the bishops wrote in an open letter to senators on Friday, according to Crux.
"Without significant improvement, this bill does not meet the moral criteria for healthcare reform outlined in our previous letters and must be changed," they add.
"A distinct feature of the Graham-Cassidy bill is the use of block grants to states in place of premium tax credits, cost-sharing subsidies and the Medicaid expansion. While flexibility can be good at times, these block grants will result in billions of dollars in reductions for those in healthcare poverty," the bishops wrote.
"Our country can ill afford to put access to healthcare for those most in need in jeopardy this way; the costs to our communities, including public and private organizations at all levels, will be too high."
The bishops also chided Republican leaders for trying to schedule a vote next week, saying, "decisions about the health of our citizens, a concern fundamental to each of us, should not be made in haste simply because an artificial deadline looms."
They conclude, "the common good should call you to come together in a bipartisan way to pass thoughtful legislation that addresses the life, conscience, immigrant access, market stability and affordability problems that now exist. Your constituents, especially those with no voice of their own in this process, deserve no less."
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