Calls on them to "give up" divisive rhetoric for Lent and pass health-care reform by Easter
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2010
Boston, MA - Catholic Democrats, a national advocacy organization, is calling on the Catholic members of Congress to "give up" partisanship for Lent, in the wake of the historic summit in Washington DC hosted by President Obama to advance critical health care reform legislation. In a letter to all 160 Catholic Senators and Representatives, signed by the organization's president and national director, Catholic Democrats urged these leaders to draw on their shared religious values in addressing one of the Church's longest standing social priorities - ending the denial of health care to large portions of the US population due to preexisting medical conditions, lack of employer-based insurance, and economic instability.
"Because health and healing are at the heart of the Gospel message," the letter begins, "and because our Church has advocated a right to universal health care so forcefully for nearly a century, we are asking today that you and all Catholic members of Congress follow the tradition of 'giving up something for Lent': namely the divisive politics that has pitted groups of Americans against one another and jeopardized our shared Catholic commitment to achieve universal health care." The Catholic Democrats letter also outlines the social and economic impact the nation faces if health-care reform is not passed.
The group is also hailing President Obama's plan, released on Monday, that bridges the differences between the House and Senate versions of the health-care reform passed last fall with majority support. In short, the President proposes helping all states with coverage of their poorest citizens; plugs the "donut hole" in Part D Medicare that threatens the medical budgets of many of the nation's elderly; seeks regulation of the massive health insurance premium increases; and most importantly, provides coverage for 31 million additional people who currently depend on emergency rooms for their routine medical care.
"From a Catholic perspective, it is the escalating human cost that is so compelling," said Dr Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats. "25 percent more people have no health insurance compared to 9 years ago. Half of all family bankruptcies hit people with insurance who have suffered a major health crisis. And we continue to tolerate perpetuation of grave health disparities based on race and income level. Our current system perpetuates these immoral realities, and it has to stop."
"Lent is an opportunity for Catholics in Congress to help move the nation forward on the issues that divide us," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats. "There is a strong Catholic presence in Congress, with Catholics comprising 30 percent of the 535 members. The Catholic Social Tradition is one that we hope and pray would inform them, at this time, in both their dealings with each other and in the conclusions they reach to provide this fundamental human right for millions of Americans - lest we become callous to the injustices and tragedies unfolding before us every day. They are in a unique and historic position, and to paraphrase St. Paul, 'Now is the time.'"