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Bishops urge Congress to take bipartisan approach on health care reform


U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalists in the Oval Office at the White House March 24 after the American Health Care Act was pulled before a vote. Now that lawmakers have withdrawn the bill, Congress must "seize this moment to create a new spirit of bipartisanship" and make "necessary reforms" in existing health care law to address access, affordability, life and conscience, said three U.S. bishops' committee chairmen. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Now that lawmakers have withdrawn the American Health Care Act, Congress must "seize this moment to create a new spirit of bipartisanship" and make "necessary reforms" in existing health care law to address access, affordability, life and conscience, said three U.S. bishops' committee chairmen.

The GOP bill was removed from consideration by the House at the eleventh hour March 24 because its passage looked unlikely, as a number of lawmakers disagreed with several of its provisions as well as the process that led to the drafting of the bill.

The measure "contained serious deficiencies, particularly in its changes to Medicaid, that would have impacted the poor and others most in need in unacceptable ways," the bishops said in a joint letter to Congress dated March 30 and released March 31 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But the committee chairmen also said that withdrawal of the bill "must not end our nation's efforts to improve health care."

The letter was signed by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

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