Critics have pointed to the nearly identical scoring of both a simple repeal of the ACA, which judged by the CBO to result in 22 million more uninsured persons, and the House-passed American Health Care Act, a repeal-and-replace bill, which was also determined to result in 23 million more uninsured.
Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chair of the U.S. bishops' domestic justice and human development committee, meanwhile said that the first version of the Senate bill was "unacceptable" and that the revised version did not contain enough improvements to change that determination.
Regarding the first version of the bill, he said in June that "it is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written."
"At a time when tax cuts that would seem to benefit the wealthy and increases in other areas of federal spending, such as defense, are being contemplated, placing a 'per capita cap' on medical coverage for the poor is unconscionable," he said of the proposed per capita caps in Medicaid funding to states.
Regarding the repeal of the individual mandate, and its replacement with a penalty for going more than 63 days without coverage, he said that "many people are forced to use their resources to address immediate needs," and that the penalty "will leave these individuals and families without coverage when they need it most."
And the bill would also result in higher premiums and less relief for some of those who need it most, he said. "In many places, older and lower-income people will pay more than under current law because of decreased levels of tax credit support and higher premiums."
When the revised plan was released, Bishop Dewane said in a July 13 statement that it was still unacceptable and that "more is needed to honor our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters living in poverty and to ensure that essential protections for the unborn remain in the bill."
Last week, short of the needed votes to pass the bill through the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ultimately announced that a vote would occur to repeal and replace the ACA.
However, the Senate on Tuesday will reportedly vote on a "motion to proceed" on the House bill, the AHCA, and then would attach amendments to repeal and replace the ACA.
These amendments would include language from the 2015 repeal bill and a version of the Senate's recent health care proposal. That language would reportedly not include the protections against taxpayer funding of insurance plans with abortions.
On July 21, Bishop Dewane said that the Senate would need an acceptable health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act if they voted to repeal the ACA.
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He said that "in the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement."
"Yet," he said, "reform is still needed to address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability." The bishops had previously said that funding of abortion coverage in plans offered on the exchanges, as well as lack of coverage for immigrants, were among their concerns with the Affordable Care Act and their reasons for ultimately not supporting its passage.
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.