Catholic bishops voice concerns ahead of health care summit
President Obama speaks at the health care summit on Thursday afternoon.
President Obama speaks at the health care summit on Thursday afternoon.

.- The evening before the White House Health care Summit in Washington, the U.S. Catholic bishops urged political leaders to commit to enacting “genuine” reform that will protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.

“The Catholic bishops have long supported adequate and affordable health care for all, because health care is a basic human right,” their letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) explained.

The Feb. 24 letter was signed by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, the respective chairs of the bishops’ committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities and Migration.

“As pastors and teachers, we believe genuine health care reform must protect human life and dignity from conception to natural death, not threaten them, especially for the voiceless and vulnerable,” the prelates continued, adding that legislation must not violate the consciences of providers, taxpayers and purchasers of insurance.

“We believe universal coverage should be truly universal and should not be denied to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive here,” the bishops wrote.

They said affordable and accessible health care based on such principles is a public good, a moral imperative and an “urgent national priority.”

The bishops encouraged legislation that ensures access to quality affordable health care, retains longstanding rules barring federal funds for elective abortions or plans that include them, protects conscience rights, and protects and expands immigrants’ access to health care.

“Dialogue should continue and no legislation should be finalized until and unless these basic moral criteria are met,” the bishops continued, saying they will work to ensure acceptable legislation and will oppose unacceptable legislation.

“We hope and pray that the Congress and the country will come together around genuine health care reform that protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all,” their letter concluded.

The health care summit was held today at the Blair House across the street from the White House and attended by close to 40 congressional members.

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