Bishops say health, retirement reforms should not contribute to poverty

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Reforms in health and retirement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security must not increase poverty or economic hardship among the people they are designed to help, the chairman of two U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committees said in a letter to Congress. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, cautioned in the April 22 letter against shifting the cost of such programs to or diminishing benefits of vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities and the poor.

“There are policy options that have the potential to raise adequate revenues for these programs while protecting beneficiaries and we challenge you to explore those options,” the bishops wrote. The letter comes as Congress continues to weigh a final spending plan for fiscal year 2014. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have adopted overall budget resolutions. President Barack Obama also sent proposed budget plan for 2014 to Congress, but no action has been taken on it. Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates said they were not offering a detailed critique of the president’s budget proposal but were offering their views on proposals that affect poverty and basic human needs.

Read Letter to US Senate
Read Letter to US House of Representatives