Bishop Dewane remains at forefront of national debate on budget, health care reform Print this post

Staff Report (Florida Catholic)

6/5/17

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, continues to be at the forefront of many of the national issues being debated including the budget and health care reform. The Bishop consistently emphasizes the moral imperatives involved in such decisions and expresses concerns about their impact on the nation’s poor and vulnerable.

Regarding the Federal Budget, which was unveiled May 23, a question and answer session with Bishop Dewane was posted by the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. In the discussion, Bishop Dewane stressed that the budget is a moral document because it highlights the collective spending priorities of our nation, which impact the good of real people as budget numbers have real faces behind them. 

“These decisions help determine how we all, particularly the most vulnerable, will fare in society,” the Bishop added. “As Christians, we also recall the words of Christ who said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for Me” (Matthew 25). Budget decisions ought to be guided by the moral criteria that ensure protection of human life and dignity, give central importance to “the least of these,” and promote the well-being of workers and families who struggle to live in dignity. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of the poor. The moral measure of the federal budget is how well it promotes the common good of all, especially the most vulnerable.”

For the complete Q&A with Bishop Dewane, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/public-affairs/experts/qa-budget-bishop-dewane.cfm.

The Bishop was also a cosigner of a June 1 letter to the U.S. Senate as they begin to discuss health care reform and provided moral principles to help guide policymakers in their deliberations.

The letter stressed the “grave obligations” that Senators have “when it comes to policy that affects health care.”  While commending the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), for its protections for unborn children, the Bishops emphasized the “many serious flaws” in the AHCA, including unacceptable changes to Medicaid. 

“The Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person, and the corresponding obligation as a country to provide for this right,” the Chairmen wrote.  “[T]hose without a strong voice in the process must not bear the brunt of attempts to cut costs.”

Other cosigners of the letter included Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for religious Liberty; and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chair on the Committee on Migration.

The Bishops outlined key principles for Senators such as universal access, respect for life, true affordability, the need for high quality and comprehensive medical care, and conscience protections. 

If the Senate takes up the House bill as a starting point, the letter urges that lawmakers “must retain the positive elements of the bill and remedy its grave deficiencies.”  Specifically, the Chairmen called on the Senate to:  reject dramatic changes to Medicaid; retain the AHCA’s life protections; increase the level of tax assistance, especially for low-income and older people; retain the existing cap on costs of plans for the elderly; protect immigrants; and add conscience protections, among other things.

The full letter to Congress can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Senate-Principles-letter-Health-Care-Reform-2017-06-01.pdf.

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