[For the Record] (Emphases mine)
DIOCESE OF SAN BERNARDINO
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
My greetings to you in this season of Lent. lt is my hope and prayer that you are
able to grow in your faith and draw nearer to our Lord in these 40 days through
prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
The purpose of this letter is to provide some clarification and some direction
regarding the new federal healthcare law. As you may know, the Affordable
Healthcare Act requires that all legal residents of the country carry health insurance
by April 1. Failure to comply with this law will result in fines that increase
progressively each year.
lt is understandable that many may have questions and fears about how to comply with this law. This is reflected in the reports of low health insurance enrollment among members of our Hispanic communities. However, to ignore this law or put it off will result in negative financial consequences for you and your family.
While the insurance requirement does not apply to those who have undocumented
status, it does apply to their children if those children have legal residency in the
United States. Please be aware of this and your responsibility to sign your child up
for health insurance immediately.
lt is true that our Church has raised objection to elements of the law that relate to contraception and abortion services that might be provided through it. We continue to address these issues with lawmakers and through the courts, which l fully support.
However, these factors do not mean that we, as Catholics, should disobey the new health care law. If we happen to have an insurance plan that includes services that are objectionable to our faith, which most plans in California do, our response is to not utilize these services. We do this through an informed conscience and reflection on the teachings of our Church about the value and dignity of every human life and God’s plan for creation.
The Affordable Care Act is now part of civil law and as faithful citizens we are
obligated to follow it. Furthermore, it offers an opportunity for many individuals and
families who have never had health insurance to obtain it. This will aflim the dignity
of many people and improve their quality of life, a chief reason why the Bishops of
the United States have been advocating for health care refon”n for decades.
ln conclusion, l would urge those who have not yet signed up for health insurance to
do so before the end of this month. This can be done through the Medi-Cal program
or through a private health insurance exchange called Covered California,
depending on your income. if you need help with this process I would recommend
that you ﬁrst contact Catholic Charities San Bernardino-Riverside at (909) 383-1239
or, in the Coachella /alley, at (760) 342-0157. Catholic Charities is a certiﬁed Medi-
Cal enroller and can also connect you directly to a certiﬁed Covered California
enrollment counselor. The two Catholic hospitals in our diocese, St. Bernardine
Medical Center (San Bemardino) and St. Mary Medical Center (Apple Valley) are
also involved in the information and enrollment process for Covered California.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Increasingly, we face the
challenge of reconciling our faith with matters of public policy. Let us continue to
pray and reﬂect in these moments so that we might be faithful citizens and
witnesses to the life-giving power of the Gospel.
May God bless you in your Lenten journey.
Most Reverend Gerald Fl. Bames
Bishop ofthe Diocese of San Bemardino