Bishop Frank Dewane, chairman of the US bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Social Development, called it "deeply disappointing"

The American Health Care Act that passed by a four-vote margin on May 4 in the House of Representatives has “major defects,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Social Development.

“It is deeply disappointing that the voices of those who will be most severely impacted were not heeded,” Bishop Dewane said in a May 4 statement. “The AHCA does offer critical life protections, and our health care system desperately needs these safeguards. But still, vulnerable people must not be left in poor and worsening circumstances as Congress attempts to fix the current and impending problems with the Affordable Care Act.”

He added, “When the Senate takes up the AHCA, it must act decisively to remove the harmful proposals from the bill that will affect low-income people — including immigrants — as well as add vital conscience protections, or begin reform efforts anew. Our health care policy must honour all human life and dignity from conception to natural death, as well as defend the sincerely held moral and religious beliefs of those who have any role in the health care system.”

Those opposing the bill cited reductions in coverage and cost increases. Those favouring the bill cited its pro-life provisions.

“The vote falls far short of protecting the millions of Americans who have insurance or gained it under the Affordable Care Act,” Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, said.”It also fails to provide access to affordable health care for the millions who still live without coverage.”

“Today’s House vote marks the beginning of the end of the shell game Planned Parenthood plays with public money. That the American Health Care Act limits Medicaid funds to entities that don’t kill people is entirely appropriate, not to mention a step that’s long overdue,” said Father Frank Pavone, national president of Priests for Life.

“Sending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to an organization that dismembers 320,000 unborn babies a year adds up to a travesty of justice,” he added. “The Senate should approve the defunding legislation as soon as possible and send it to the president’s desk. The scam of using public money to prop up abortion businesses needs to be terminated.”

“Abortion is not health care, and in light of that — this bill provides Hyde (Amendment)-like protections and redirects funding away from our America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, to community health centers that offer comprehensive women’s care, and already outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics by 20 to 1,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.

“We urge our U.S. senators to follow the House’s lead and ensure that pro-life protections and the redirection of Planned Parenthood funding remain, because without it — this bill will fail,” Mancini said.