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Religious Leaders Fiercely Criticize Senate Health Care Bill



Some of the most scathing takedowns of Senate Republicans’ long-anticipated health care bill came from religious leaders, who blasted the legislation for its massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and its draconian reductions to Medicaid.  

The 142-page bill was quickly criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike after Senate leaders unveiled it on Thursday. Religious leaders, however, offered some of the harshest assessments.

Scroll down for a sampling of statements shared with HuffPost from religious leaders:

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice:

This bill is a crass political calculation carried out by 13 white, male senators who are out of touch with the realities of millions of ordinary families in every state.”

“The ‘plan’ unveiled by Senate Republicans today continues to be un-American. Their mission is clear: the GOP wants to push people off of health care coverage in order to give more tax breaks to the very wealthy. This bill is a crass political calculation carried out by 13 white, male senators who are out of touch with the realities of millions of ordinary families in every state. They are about raw power ― not working for the common good. Democracy works best when there are hearings, debate, and discussion to craft a bill that works for everyone, not just a few senators.

“My faith challenges me to heal the sick and care for the widow and the orphan. This Republican bill does the opposite. This is not the faithful way forward. We urge a NO vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act.”

The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director, Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness:

Passing this bill means that people will die from lack of health care, a reality that we as Presbyterians cannot accept.”

“The draconian cuts to heath care are an unacceptable threat to God’s people, particularly those who have the least access to resources in our society. Passing this bill means that people will die from lack of health care, a reality that we as Presbyterians cannot accept. We urge all senators of good conscience to recognize their responsibility to vote NO on the Better Care Reconciliation Act.”

Barbara Weinstein, director, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism:

Jewish tradition’s emphasis on caring for the sick and uplifting those in need inspires us to demand that the Senate reject this harmful legislation.”

“We vehemently oppose the Senate health care proposal released today. The bill’s devastating cuts and restructuring of Medicaid will profoundly and negatively impact our nation’s most vulnerable ― low-income Americans, the elderly, children, and people with disabilities. Jewish tradition’s emphasis on caring for the sick and uplifting those in need inspires us to demand that the Senate reject this harmful legislation and work to expand, not restrict, access to affordable health care.”

The Rev. David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World:

Medical bills often drive families, especially those who struggle to make ends meet, into hunger and poverty.”

“Ending the Medicaid expansion at a slower rate still means that millions of Americans will have their health care coverage taken away. Senators who support this bill will be voting to take away health insurance from the elderly, the disabled, and children. Medical bills often drive families, especially those who struggle to make ends meet, into hunger and poverty. Instead of making our health care system worse, Congress should strive to improve the system so that all Americans have the health care coverage they need.”

The Rev. Leslie Copeland Tune, director, Ecumenical Poverty Initiative:

It seems that the 13 senators who drafted this bill have had their moral compass demagnetized by political posturing.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the Senate version of the AHCA, which will negatively impact millions of Americans including the poorest in our nation, children and the elderly. The cuts to Medicaid are reprehensible and the planned phaseout will put people’s lives in jeopardy and make America sick again. It seems that the 13 senators who drafted this bill have had their moral compass demagnetized by political posturing, an unhealthy desire to dismantle, rather than fix, the Affordable Care Act, and to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest in our nation ― all at the expense of the American people. This is both shameful and unjust. We call on U.S. senators to put people first. Reject this bill by voting against it. Lives are at stake and so is the moral fabric of our nation.”

The Rev. Jason Carson Wilson, justice and peace policy fellow, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries:

What would Jesus do? He would champion health care for all.”

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were promised to us all. Deep Medicaid cuts are destined to bring death and sadness to many. Children, seniors and people living with disabilities’ lives hang in the balance. As a follower of Jesus, I’m called to comfort the afflicted. Drastic Medicaid cuts will only create more chaos and pain for those already facing challenges. What would Jesus do? He would champion health care for all.”

Diane Randall, executive secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation:

The Senate version of the AHCA is beyond irresponsible; it is immoral.”

“The Senate version of the AHCA is beyond irresponsible; it is immoral. The draconian cuts and restructuring of Medicaid do nothing to address instability in the marketplace or lower premiums. Instead, states will be forced to eliminate health services, leaving millions without access to needed care. These Medicaid cuts will fall particularly hard on low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Never before have I seen legislation that would do so much harm to senators’ own constituents, especially for families struggling to make ends meet. Rather than cutting Medicaid in a rushed and secretive process, Congress should work in a bipartisan and responsible manner to truly address the real problems within America’s health care system.”

Larry Couch, director, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd:

This wanton disregard for human life must be stopped.”

“Learning about the proposed deep cuts in Medicaid passed by the House of Representatives, the American people looked to the Senate. Sadly, the Senate plan proposes even deeper cuts in Medicaid. This wanton disregard for human life must be stopped. Millions of children living in poverty, people with disabilities, and older people in nursing homes will be denied life-saving medicine and care. Call your legislators today to stop this vicious attack on the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

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