Working to Strengthen Health Care for the Poor on Many Fronts
But Health Care Coverage for Millions of Our Friends in Need Remains in Jeopardy
November 6, 2017
Along with twenty-four (24) other faith-based and social justice-minded organizations, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul under the leadership of President Ralph Middlecamp has signed on to a coalition letter urging Congress to swiftly enact the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017.
This legislation has two dozen Senate sponsors and co-sponsors split evenly between both political parties, and appears to hold great promise for stabilizing health insurance options and coverage for our friends in need - the poor, the working poor, the vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized. It represents the first piece of recent Congressional health care legislation that the inter-faith health care coalition, of which the Society has been a part since the first of the year, is able to strongly support rather than fervently oppose.
At this juncture, the Society is not issuing a formal action alert asking Vincentians to contact their Congressional representatives. It is a bit too early for a formal campaign. Individual Vincentians nonetheless might wish to check whether their Senator is a co-sponsor (see last page of coalition letter), and if not, urge them to become one. You can easily contact your Senator via e-mail by using Vincentian VoterVoice - click here to either join (it's free!) or to compose your message even if not enrolled by simply entering your zip code and choosing the "Compose Message" option.
Vincentians are also encouraged to read the interfaith coalition letter (click here) and pass it on to others to help build awareness and support.
Coverage for millions of those we serve remains in jeopardy. The Bipartisan Stabilization Act would go a long way to change that situation and conform with the Vincentian and Christian call to ensure affordable, good quality health care for all, regardless of an individual or family's economic station in life.
In addition, Vincentians should know that the Open Enrollment Period for 2018 health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act (the so-called "marketplace exchanges") has just begun and extends to December 15, a considerably shorter period than in years past. If you encounter in your ministry individuals or families who lack health insurance, be sure to inform them that Enrollment Period is presently open. A very informative faith-based toolkit for the Open Enrollment Period is available here. It's a resource every Council and Conference should know about and have at the ready!
Lastly, the Society continues to monitor the status of legislation that would renew the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which provides coverage to about 8 million vulnerable children. This excellent 20-year-old program expired September 30th, and its renewal is now being debated in Congress. There appears to be partisan support for renewal soon, but we may need to ask you to help raise the Voice of the Poor cry if the forward advance of the legislation stalls. For a brief Voice of the Poor Advocacy Backgrounder on CHIP, click here.
This Advocacy Update was prepared by Tom Dwyer, Chair, National Voice of the Poor Committee.
Tom can be contacted at email@example.com.
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