Despite Flaws, Obamacare Was The More Catholic Option

Despite Flaws, Obamacare Was The More Catholic Option March 23, 2017

When I judge a piece of legislation, I try to look beyond the selling points and soundbites meant to increase, or decrease, support, and answer one, simple question: At its heart, does this bill support or promote ideals consistent with Catholic Social Justice?

In regards to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), I say the answer is yes. And here’s why.

As I’ve pointed out on more than once occasion, the Church has been really clear about where it stands on healthcare.

Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good. Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance. – The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2288

All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. The Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable. — USCCB

It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare. – Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

Health is not a consumer good but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege. —Pope Francis

Basically, any action we take in regards to healthcare should be ordered towards increasing access and coverage for everyone.

Now, did the Affordable Care Act have flaws? Yes. Where there provisions in the bill that didn’t conform to Catholic teaching? Yes. Was the fight with the Little Sisters over the HHS Mandate ridiculous and needlessly aggressive? You bet.

But flaws aside, the intent of the ACA was to expand coverage for as many people as possible. At its heart, the goal was to ensure more, not fewer, people had insurance.

Now let’s contrast that with GOP alternative—the American Healthcare Act (or Trumpcare).

Initial analysis shows that if enacted, roughly 24 million people will lose coverage. Subsides meant to help people afford their insurance will be cut, along with essential health benefits and Medicaid.

Trump knows this. Paul Ryan knows this. Every Republican in favor knows this. But they don’t care, because expanded coverage is not the intent of the AHCA. At its heart, the AHCA is not about ensuring as many people as possible have access to healthcare. It’s about tax cuts (mostly for the wealthy), gutting Medicaid, and dismantling Obama’s legacy.

Compared to the quotes from the Catechism, the Bishops, and Pope Francis cited above, it should be pretty easy to figure out which one of these is the Christian option, and which one is not.

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