Episcopal Public Policy Network urges opposition to health-care reform repeal

January 18, 2011

With the U.S. House of Representatives set to vote as early as Jan. 19 on a measure that would repeal health-care reform legislation, the Episcopal Public Policy Network is urging Episcopalians to advocate against such a rollback.

In a policy alert issued Jan. 18, the network said that "now is not the time to remove the benefits and protections upon which hardworking Americans now depend during these difficult economic times."

"During this crucial phase of implementation of the law," the alert said of the law that began going into effect in late 2010, "the American people will not be served well by the uncertainty that repeal would bring to our health care system."

The alert urged Episcopalians to contact their representatives and ask them to vote against repeal, telling them to not "take away new benefits that protect all American families."

EPPN's e-mail letter page is here.

The original law provides health care for all Americans, bars the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, prohibits lifetime limits on coverage and allows parents to keep children up to age 26 on their insurance, EPPN said.

During the 76th General Convention in 2009, the Episcopal Church called for (via Resolution C071) elected officials at all levels of government in the United States to "establish a system to provide basic health care to all." The resolution arose out of work done by the bioethics commission of the Diocese of East Tennessee.

The convention also called for passage of federal legislation establishing a "single payer" universal health care program (Resolution D048) and asked (via Resolution D088) Congress to pass, and the president to sign, legislation by the end of 2009 guaranteeing adequate health care and insurance for all citizens.

Any successful vote in the House for Resolution 2, titled "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act," is expected to be largely symbolic because Democrats still hold the majority in the Senate. President Barack Obama has promised to veto any repeal bill that might come to his desk.

Debate and a subsequent vote on H.R. 2 had been set for last week, but were postponed after the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords had voted for the original so-called "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" health-care reform bill when it passed in March 2010.

Vigorous and at times vitriolic debate on the bill ensued. Giffords' Tucson office was vandalized just after the vote during a series of such incidents and threats against some representatives who voted for the bill.

Republicans regained the majority in the House during the November 2010 elections, based in part on anger over the reform bill, and made repeal a high priority.

The Republican insistence that the bill will result in lost jobs is reportedly based at least in part on an August 2010 report from the Congressional Budget Office that predicted the bill would reduce the amount of labor in the economy by about 0.5 percent, because more people would choose to retire earlier, thanks to the reduced cost of health insurance. FactCheck.org said Jan. 7 that the claim is misleading.

At least 24 federal lawsuits have been filed by states and private parties, mainly claiming as unconstitutional the law's requirement that all Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty.