Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
We, the Bishops of The United Methodist Church in North Carolina, write to you to express our deep concern for what we see as a reduction to the health care benefits of many North Carolinians. We represent over 2000 congregations in North Carolina communities, with over 500,000 members. Our ministries of outreach affect many thousands more. We are in daily touch with the needs of people, and we know the serious impacts of proposed legislation upon our constituents in North Carolina.
We applaud the manner of openness and bipartisanship with which you are conducting the Senate investigation into the alleged Russian interference in the American election process, and we call upon you to request that same degree of transparency in the development of improved health care legislation that will affect millions of Americans.
The recent secret deliberations of a selected few Republican Senators on a new American Health Care Bill (AHCA) on a matter that affects all Americans regardless of their political affiliation does not reflect the standards of transparency and democracy we expect from our government. We strongly urge bi-partisan approaches and open hearings to the crafting of such important life-affecting legislation.
The recently passed House bill calls for a major reduction in Medicaid funding. The Senate bill would yield even greater impact, affecting the most vulnerable in North Carolina. Almost half of NC children with chronic conditions such as juvenile diabetes and asthma rely on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which also provide in-home care for children with disabilities; screening, diagnosis, and treatment of physical and mental illnesses; and lab tests, x-rays, and hospital visits, among other things. Medicaid cuts would result in the reduction of doctor-recommended services, special education services, and provider payments. The impact would fall heaviest on the weakest among us as thousands lose vital coverage.
We have particular concern regarding the impact on elderly people and our rural hospitals. Adults aged 59-64 could pay up to five times more for coverage than younger people, with the real result of precluding access to healthcare. The fiscal impact on our rural hospitals, who depend upon Medicaid payouts in covering the cost of caring for low-income persons, extends to their communities at large with the likely result of more hospital closings in North Carolina.
The United Methodist Church has repeatedly called for universal access to affordable health care and universal insurance coverage, something the Affordable Care Act sought to do. The AHCA and the Better Care Reconciliation Act do not reflect those values.
We call upon you to vote NO to the Senate bill as it will have a deeply negative affect on the lives of thousands of people you represent. We know that they count on your position as their Senator to act in their interests.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
North Carolina Conference
United Methodist Church
Bishop Paul Leeland
Western North Carolina Conference
United Methodist Church