An Open Public Letter on Debate before U.S. Senate and House on Health Care

Dear Senators, Congressmen, and Congressional Leadership in both parties,

We write you as Christian leaders thanking you for your diligent work in healthcare reform. We regularly pray for you and your staff for wisdom and encouragement.

As the reform debate has progressed, many Evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic partners have undoubtedly been weighing in on several critical concerns. We support our colleagues in their diligent work in upholding the Sanctity of Life and the important safeguards necessary to ensure that people of faith can operate in good conscience in any healthcare environment. We, however, are limiting our commentary and focus to Medicaid.

We acknowledge that spending must be balanced against a proper handling of debt. Any expenditure in government—for national defense, social safety net programs and other legitimate priorities—must be weighed against cost and revenues. Still, a budget ought to properly prioritize providing support for our most vulnerable citizens to the greatest extent possible.

As Christian leaders we have not yet achieved a consensus on any particular approach to healthcare. We do favor mechanisms that reduce costs on the family, allow small businesses flexible tools for providing regular coverage and that provide adequately for those in need, including the working poor.

While we represent different aspects of the Christian tradition, we are united in our understanding of the teachings of Jesus, including the story of the Good Samaritan. Christ asks each of us to be ever ready to help our neighbors in need. The Good Samaritan had the means and capacity to restore his neighbor back to health so that he might live. Insofar as our nation has been blessed with the means, we ask that we empower individuals where possible and protect those who are seriously ill, so that we might be the Good Samaritan to those living on the margins. May we not pass by those in serious need.

The Medicaid program is a primary mechanism to provide basic coverage for the elderly, individuals and families. The current proposals before the Congress embodied in the American Healthcare Act of 2017 (AHCA) and Better Care Reconciliation Act 2017 shift costs too substantially on states like Alaska, Alabama, West Virginia, Montana and others—states where meeting their year-to-year budgets are difficult enough.

In its current form the AHCA and Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would bankrupt many state budgets and force those states to choose which of the sick and poor can’t be helped.

There are other ways to run an efficient and cost effective social safety net program like Medicaid, which don’t involve non-specific reductions in spending. We believe those options ought to be exhausted before costs are shifted too quickly on states with significant consequences to the poor.

We thank you for your attention and look forward to working with you to fix this problem as it relates to Medicaid.

Sincerely,

Deacon Nathanael Bacon, Archdiocese of San Francisco; InnerChange

Scott Brill, Co-Founder, Founding Fellow, Institute for Christian Unity, Boston, MA

Alexei Laushkin, Executive Director, Kingdom Mission Society, Herndon, VA

Rev. Carlos L. Malave, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together, Louisville, KY

Dr. Lou Shirey, Director of Clergy Development/WIN Prayer Ministry, International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Bethany, OK

Dr. Karen Swallow Prior

[the public letter is currently open for signature. This is a partial list of signers. Institutional names for identification purpose]

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