Catholics Call on Congress for Legislation to Give Children Health Insurance

HNP Communications Franciscan World

Editor’s Note: This article has been summarized from a news release issued by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. HNP’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office (JPIC) supports this organization.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good here is urging the U.S. House and Senate to reauthorize packages for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that would provide coverage for more than 9 million uninsured children in the United States.

Legislation has been stalled over funding for this program, according to the Alliance, which promotes awareness of Catholic social teaching and core values of justice, dignity and the common good. The Alliance is calling on Congress and President Bush to fully fund this critical program.

According to the Alliance, President Bush said at the 2004 Republican Convention: “America’s children must also have a healthy start in life. In a new term, we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor children who are eligible but not signed up for the government’s health insurance programs.”

The Alliance, of which HNP’s JPIC is a supporter, is taking a strong stand. A recent news release stated, “After appealing to and winning the support of Catholics by philosophically supporting a culture of life, the President should put his promises into action and defend the life and health of the millions of uninsured children in this country.”

JPIC Supports the Alliance
Russell Testa, the Province’s JPIC director, said that this is just one of many pieces of legislation that the JPIC Office is working on.

“Healthcare for children is one of the many issues that the Catholic Church has an opportunity to put its input on to help bring out the Common Good. This legislation will help millions of children stay well and get the medical help they need when they’re sick.”

The SCHIP program is a common good policy necessary for the protection and fulfillment of human life and human dignity. The Alliance news release said: “When even one child is sick and cannot receive medical care, we are diminished as a nation. If we are to stand as a moral beacon for the world, it is imperative that we take particular care for our most vulnerable.”

Healthcare: A Fundamental Human Right
The Alliance further stated: “The Catholic Church is clear in its teaching that access to adequate health care is a fundamental human right. Adequate health care is also a sign of a secure and stable nation. The duty of defending our security is not only a military obligation, but also a responsibility to the health and welfare of all citizens. We cannot be secure as a nation, nor can the common good be realized, when the life and health of our children are at risk.

“Our faith and our Catholic social tradition demand that we foster a culture of life which includes health care for those who need it most. We join the hundreds of other organizations, including the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association, in urging the Congress and President to move forward and act now to fully fund SCHIP and bring common good policies into action.”

Other groups supporting the cause include Catholics United, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, Pax Christi USA, and others.