From The Associated Press:
President Barack Obama’s much-challenged health care overhaul gained traction Wednesday as a liberal lawmaker became the first to switch his opposition and Catholic nuns declared their support in an unusual public break with the bishops.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, long a supporter of Medicare-for-all, voted against the House Democratic bill in November because it did not go far enough in creating a robust government-run plan to compete with private insurance. But Kucinich said Wednesday that the bill coming before the House represents the best chance to expand coverage to the uninsured, even if it does not include a public plan…
…Meanwhile, in a rare public disagreement that will reverberate among the nation’s 70 million Catholics, leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 nuns sent lawmakers a letter urging them to pass the Senate health care bill. Expected to come before the House by this weekend, the measure contains abortion funding restrictions that the bishops say don’t go far enough.
“Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions,” said the letter signed by 60 leaders of women’s religious orders. “It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments … in support of pregnant women. This is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Right to Life Committee have denounced the bill as a backdoor subsidy for abortion. But the nuns and the Catholic Health Association-representing some 600 hospitals-say restrictions in the Senate bill would still prevent taxpayer funding for abortion, although the legal mechanism for doing so is different from what the bishops prefer.