Catholic Sisters of Western Pennsylvania

The day before the U.S. Senate prepared to unveil its measure to replace Obamacare, Catholic Sisters from across the Commonwealth spoke out about the harm the proposed cuts and changes would have on vulnerable  Pennsylvanians.

A letter circulated by Sisters of St. Joseph-Baden, a Pittsburgh suburb, was signed by 55 Catholic clergy, women religious and leaders in Catholic institutions.

The letter, which follows similar concerns by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, notes that in Pennsylvania, Medicaid provides health care services to more than 2.5 million residents — nearly half of whom are children.

“Medicaid allows 640,000 people with disabilities to get the services they need to live independently and with dignity, and funds nearly one-third of all births in the Commonwealth,” reads the letter.

“Medicaid is also a vital lifeline for 252,000 Pennsylvania seniors, covering the cost of nursing home care and long-term services in the home that Medicare does not cover.”

It goes on to note that  since 2014, when Pennsylvania expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, nearly 700,000 Pennsylvanians, including 82,000 veterans, have received health care.

Shortly after the U.S. House unveiled its  replacement measure on May 4, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called upon the Senate to strip out “harmful” provisions of the House bill.

In his statement, Dewane said “It is deeply disappointing that the voices of those who  will be most severely impacted were not heeded. The (Affordable Care Act) does offer critical life protections, and our health care system desperately needs these safeguards. But ... vulnerable people must not be left in poor and worsening circumstances as Congress attempts to fix the current and impending problems with the Affordable Care Act.”

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