If anyone thought passage of the health care reform law ended the process of reforming the system, they might have been surprised to learn that the new House of Representatives last week voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Political observers think outright repeal won’t happen because it probably won’t get through the Senate and certainly won’t be signed by President Obama.

Affordable health care for everyone in America was a goal supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the run-up to the law’s passage. The bishops continue to call that goal a moral imperative. Today the law stands with serious flaws that must be fixed. {{more}}

In a Jan. 18 letter sent to members of Congress, three chairmen of the Bishops’ Conference committees – Pro-Life Activities, Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Migration – sidestepped the issue of repeal.

“Rather than joining efforts to support or oppose the repeal of the recently enacted health care law, we will continue to devote our efforts to correcting serious moral problems in the current law, so health care reform can be truly life-affirming for all,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Bishop Stephen E. Blair of Stockton, Calif., and Coadjutor Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairmen of the committees, respectively.

They identified three criteria in their letter that the nation’s health care system must reflect:

* “Access to quality, affordable, life-giving health care for all;”

* Protection of the conscience rights of health providers and a ban on any federal funding of “elective abortions or plans that include them;”

* Continued access to health care for immigrants and the removal of existing barriers to access.

The first point is a given; everyone agrees this is the goal, even if people disagree intensely on how to achieve it. The third point is not what opponents of immigration reform want to hear, but the bishops are saying it nonetheless.

The second point is already gaining traction in Congress. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 3) touts more than 160 cosponsors so far. They include U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts (R) of Chester County, who also sponsors the Protect Life Act (HR 358). The bills seek to codify into law the goals of protecting conscience rights of health workers and denying federal funding for abortion.

Catholics and all people who seek a just and moral health care system can get involved by contacting their U.S. House representative to urge passage of these bills. Visit www.usccb.org/prolife to read Cardinal DiNardo’s letters and take much-needed action today.