On March 6, 2017, the Republican majority in Congress revealed the American Health Care Act; it’s healthcare proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, known by many as “Obamacare.” Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009, Republicans in Congress have vowed to “repeal” the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a better plan that is more affordable and puts healthcare options back in the control of the American people and their doctors. More than fifty times Republicans in Congress voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but were rebuffed each time by vetoes from former President Barack Obama. Now however, Republicans control both houses of Congress, and the White House has vowed to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. The American Healthcare Act is their plan to replace Obamacare. The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, after reviewing the proposed American Healthcare Act, and upon release of the review of the proposal by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, strongly opposes passage of the American Health Care Act. This proposal, if enacted into law and signed by the president would do great harm to a majority of the American people. This proposal also does not keep the promise made by President Trump who promised a plan that would provide healthcare for every American, and reduce premiums. The American Health Care Act does neither. In fact, it does the opposite, it takes away healthcare for millions of Americans, and increases premiums for those who retain healthcare.
A review of the American Health Care Act by the Congressional Budget Office reveals that in the first year of the law’s implementation, the number of uninsured would increase by four million people, and by 2026 the number of uninsured would increase by twenty-six million Americans. Premiums, which both the president and Congressional Republicans claimed would be reduced, would increase by 15% to 20%. Most troubling for us, is that the American Health Care Act would make insurance coverage less accessible for low-income Americans and the elderly. Premiums for them would increase. Those who can least afford it would be required to pay more, while healthcare would be more affordable for the young, who are healthier, and the wealthy who can pay more. Tax cuts for those who make more than $200,000.00 a year will come to $274 billion dollars over a ten-year period. Most of our congregants are low income and the elderly, those persons who would have less access to healthcare under the American Health Care Act.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), along with most hospital organizations and medical groups, have come out in opposition to the American Health Care Act, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church joins them. The American Health Care Act is not only bad health care; it is also morally wrong. The Word of God consistently makes it clear that the “strong must bear the infirmities of the weak” and that there is a responsibility to aid the poor and elderly.
It is not enough for us to just state our opposition to the American Health Care Act, we must be proactive to ensure that it does not pass Congress nor is signed by the president.
Therefore, we call upon our clergy, congregants and the communities where our churches
are located to do the following:
- Ask each member of our churches to call or write their congresspersons and US Senator’s
office to state your opposition to the American Health Care Act and ask them to oppose it.
- Ask your physician to contact their congresspersons and US Senators to oppose the
American Health Care Act.
- Invite your congresspersons and US Senators to a meeting at your church or in your
community to discuss the American Health Care Act.
- Read this statement to your congregations during Sunday morning worship services and encourage them to act. Provide the address and phone number for your congresspersons and US Senators.
Thank you for your support and follow-through on this matter.
The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
Bishop John F. White, President
(statement available at www.ame-church.com)