WASHINGTON (September 22, 2006)—The U.S. bishops have joined the Catholic Health Association (CHA) and the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) to support congressional legislation to provide community living supports for persons with disabilities and the elderly.
The groups voiced their support in a September 13 letter to Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives John Shimkus (R-IL) and Danny Davis (D-IL). They thanked the leaders for introducing the Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Supports Act of 2005 (MiCASSA), S. 401/H.R. 910 and stressed its importance.
"Our faith calls us to work for the full inclusion of all persons with disabilities in society and in the Church…" the letter said. It highlighted the church's "healing ministry, seen today in the Catholic health care facilities, community health clinics and Catholic Charities agencies that serve millions and millions of people in our country."
"With the services that MiCASSA would make available, more people with disabilities will be able to move from institutional care to lives of independence in their communities," the letter also said. "The legislation will give them the choices and control over their lives they deserve. It will also increase the ability of people with disabilities to fulfill the duty we all share, to contribute to the common good through work, service and participation in the community."
The letter was signed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, NY, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Domestic Policy Committee; Jerald D. Freewalt, Chair, Board of Directors, NCPD and Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity and President and CEO of the CHA.