"The proposed Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), unveiled by Speaker Paul D. Ryan in early March and now making its way through the House with the support of President Donald J. Trump, has few fervent supporters but countless critics, from the AARP to the conservative Freedom Caucus. The U.S. Catholic bishops have also been wary of the proposal, and the Catholic Health Association has opposed it outright.
One Catholic member of Congress, Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, called the proposal “an act of malice,” ridiculing Mr. Ryan’s characterization of the bill as an “act of mercy.”
“With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different Scripture,” Mr. Kennedy said at a meeting of one of the House committees considering the bill. “The one that I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful but by how we care for the least among us.”
The A.C.A. is flawed in many ways, especially the way it was rolled out without due regard for questions of religious liberty, but the Republican replacement, called the American Health Care Act, seriously tests many principles of Catholic social teaching.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church mentions health care as a human right alongside food, housing, work, education and transportation (No. 166). Pope Francis has also been vocal about access to health care, especially with regard to how the poor are treated. “Health is not a consumer good but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege,” the pope said during a meeting with members, volunteers and supporters of Doctors with Africa in May.