June 27, 2017

Sisters of Charity Health System Statement on the Senate's draft health care bill: the Better Care Reconciliation Act

The Sisters of Charity Health System believes families and communities are stronger when everyone has access to quality, affordable health care. Like many in the health care provider community, we stand in opposition to the Senate’s draft health care bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).  The Senate proposal would have a devastating impact on our nation's most vulnerable populations.  According to analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the BCRA would lead to 22 million more uninsured U.S. residents by 2026.

From the onset of this debate, Catholic hospitals and health systems have been guided by a set of key values that would protect coverage for Americans. An acceptable health care system provides access to all, regardless of their means, and at all stages of life. Such a health care system must protect conscience rights, as well as extend to immigrant families.

BCRA moves in the opposite direction, particularly for our most vulnerable patients including children, cutting $772 billion in Medicaid spending across the next decade. Cuts of this magnitude are unsustainable and will increase costs to individuals with private insurance. Medicaid covers millions of Americans with chronic conditions, along with the elderly and individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and support.  

For example, Medicaid is a vital tool in addressing the opioid addiction crisis. At St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, our center of excellence in addiction medicine – Rosary Hall – is a leading partner in the community in providing a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that has far greater success rates than disparate treatment options for addiction. Medicaid covers millions of Americans and our most vulnerable patients, including those in the crisis of addiction. 

Some facts:

  • More than 220,000 Ohioans with addiction or mental health disorders now have coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Repeal would kick those people off of their insurance, potentially disrupting treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans as they are fighting for their lives.
  • Ohio spent nearly $1 billion dollars to fight the opioid epidemic last year alone, with 70 percent of this investment coming directly from Medicaid. BCRA would end Medicaid expansion, and replace it with just $2 billion to address the opioid crisis in the entire country over 10 years. Experts have said even a $45 billion investment won’t work. The money is useless if Ohio doesn’t have a Medicaid program to get people covered.  

BCRA is a giant step backwards from the goal of accessible and affordable health for all.  We can and must do better on behalf of all those who rely on our nation's health care programs and providers.  Above all, we urge our elected officials always to keep in mind the many millions of poor individuals and vulnerable families who will be affected by any changes to our health care system.  We encourage our elected officials to start over and work together with all the stakeholders for solutions to enhance availability, affordability and quality that will benefit everyone.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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