As lawmakers debate the Affordable Care Act replacement in Congress, local pastors condemned the GOP version as being detrimental to the poor and elderly.

Rev. Graylan Hagler

Rev. Graylan Hagler

Rev. Simeon Corum, a pastor at Goshen Worship Center in Forestville, Md., said he looked intently at his TV screen when Dr. Tom Price, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services talked about the White House plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The system is broken, one third of the doctors don’t see medicare patients,” Price said during a White House briefing. “This is about patients and partnerships.”

While Price is a physician who spoke with authority at the briefing, local pastors like Corum told the AFRO that he sees this bill as a “death certificate” to many poor people. “From the middle class to the poor this plan destroys them,” said Corum. “Some people are already living on the edge. This plan doesn’t work at all.”

Corum said he keeps up with health issues because in addition to being a pastor he is also a dialysis patient in need of a kidney transplant.

“This legislation is not only cruel in its victimization of the poor it will be deadly because people will die because of their lack of access to health care,” Rev. Derrick Harkins, a former pastor of the 19th Street Baptist Church in Northwest D.C. told the AFRO. Harkins used to sign people up for the ACA before he joined the Union Theological Seminary in New York as its senior vice president.

The Republican healthcare replacement would remove the individual mandate that requires people to get health insurance or face a penalty and replace income-based subsidies with refundable tax credits to purchase health insurance. The replacement would also restructure Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood. While the replacement would maintain Obamacare protections for people with pre-existing conditions, it would allow insurers to charge them higher premiums.

“When I worked with Enroll America I went to poor states represented by those who were against the Affordable Care Act. How can they go to church every Sunday and take a stand like this,” he said.

CNN reported that, according to health experts, the GOP plan would result in millions losing coverage.

“The question comes down to does everyone have the right health care,” Rev. Graylan Hagler, pastor of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Northeast D.C. told the AFRO. “This is about the haves and the have nots.”

“This is unhealthy legislation,” Rev. Lionel Edmond, pastor of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Northwest D.C. and co-founder of the Washington Interfaith Network, told the AFRO. “The Republicans are always talking about Jesus but Jesus cared for the poor.”