Washington Lobbyist Sister Simone Campbell Calls Tucson to Action Ahead of Senate Health Care Vote

If you want to praise–or blame–the lobbyists responsible for last minute passage of the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, that would be NETWORK with Sister Simone Campbell at the helm.

Sister Simone, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and a Sister of Social Services, delivered her “Health care is patriotic” message to a crowd of about 150 packed into a small lobby at Tucson’s St. Elizabeth’s Clinic last Thursday afternoon.

With passage of the Republican healthcare bill delayed over the Fourth of July holiday due to insufficient votes, Sister Simone was one of six NETWORK lobbyists staging a “fly-out” from Washington to key Republican states to rally opposition efforts against the current U.S. Senate bill.

“We already got them to slow it down,” Sister Simone said of the Republicans who, she pointed out, held no hearings and took no outside input during closed deliberations on a health care bill she says some label “savage capitalism” and “economic terrorism . . . Do we want to go back to where people can’t get care?” she asked. “We have got to make it known: Having health care is a pro-life stance.”

The proposed plan shifts $19 billion in Medicaid costs, currently met by the federal government, to Arizona over ten years. Children make up 51% percent (636,000) of Arizona’s Medicaid population. One in two children in Arizona is currently covered by Medicaid. One half of births in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid. Cuts in Medicaid will reduce coverage and/or services for seniors, people with disabilities, and families in Arizona.

The House GOP health care bill, not much different from the one presented by the Senate GOP, would give 2.1% of Arizona’s wealthiest residents tax cuts averaging $5,670 while 2.1 million Arizonans would be at risk of losing their coverage or facing increased costs, estimated to average $4,927 annually for people enrolled in Arizona’s health insurance market.

“In my view health care is a right, and not a consumer commodity,” the Catholic nun said.

Sister Simone and NETWORK were instrumental in getting the Affordable Care Act passed at all. NETWORK has been lobbying for social justice in Washington since the early 1970s. In the very final stages leading to ACA passage in 2010, Republican senators trusted the Catholic sisters’ assurance, signed by 79 sisters, that there could be no possible political repercussions from the ACA funding abortions because there was no funding in the bill for abortions, despite that rhetoric being spread about the bill at the time.

Sister Simone describes the events around passage of the ACA in her 2014 book, A Nun on the Bus. “I was invited to the bill signing,” she told the Tucson audience. “When President Obama saw me, gave me a kiss on my cheek.” She smiled and touched the spot on her left cheek to much laughter and applause from the crowd.

Sister Simone concluded her talk by encouraging her enthusiastic audience to be active. “If you go to a Fourth of July Parade . . . ,” she started to say, then stopped and acknowledged, “Do you guys do parades? Okay, it’s too hot here. Wherever you go this holiday, take a sign: ‘Healthcare is Patriotic.’ This is not about partisanship. It’s about people. It’s serious. It’s real. And it’s our job to make a difference.”

 * * * *

Numbers to call to express opposition to the Republican healthcare bill:

To leave a message for Senators Flake and McCain: 1-888-865-8089

To call their office directly and reach the senior staff people who keep track of what the people want —

Sen. John McCain’s office
David Bennett    Legislative Assistant   202-224-2235

Sen. Jeff Flake’s office
Helen Heiden     Legislative Assistant    202-224-4521

Photograph by the author from the event last week at St. Elizabeth’s Clinic in Tucson.


5 thoughts on “Washington Lobbyist Sister Simone Campbell Calls Tucson to Action Ahead of Senate Health Care Vote”

  1. Once again, no one apparently reads her pieces on this site, unless they are friends of the subject of the piece.

    As a prolific writer of op-ed articles, one piece of advice I can offer Ms. Booth is that it is not necessary to display percentages down to the tenth of a percent. It’s not an academic paper. Round up to the nearest whole number.

    This article, like most of her work, is more liberal posing than actual serious intellectual analysis. I have yet to see her advance a discussion beyond the conventional wisdom of the cultural lefty milieu.

    It’s really kind of tedious. Yes, I love Sister Simone, but Norah can’t ride her coat tails by reciting a few scattered stats and liberal bromides.

    The hole in the center of this article is the failure to identify the actual source of the problem. She makes it sound like some inexplicable and unnamed force is preventing rational healthcare reform. That’s weak tea.

    This is class struggle. The Republican Party and the plutocrats that fund it want to strip these social benefits from millions of citizens so they can get tax cuts. It’s that brutally simple.

    I would be more likely to appreciate the piece if she could stop equivocating and call a spade a spade.

  2. This is not an op-ed piece, but a journalistic report on something that happened here it Tucson with some background information. It is beyond the scope of such a brief report, that is primarily reporting of what the speaker at the event was saying, to provide a class analysis of the contemporary political situation in the United States.

  3. Thanks for the response. Yes, this is a soft human interest piece, but if the intention is to provide meaningful background information, then the omission of the actual political actors who have instigated this deliberately manufactured crisis in the U.S. healthcare system (i.e. the Republican Party, led by Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and funded by the Koch right-wing propaganda empire) is failing your readers.

    I can hold up the ideologically neutered and the oddly disembodied voice of this article as a case study in what is wrong with mainstream media journalism. The MSM cult of ‘neutrality’ with the attendant reflexive ‘both-siderist’ false equivalency narrative is why we now are under the bootheel of the neo-fascist Trump Administration.

    This degraded style of neutrality bias journalism, which has been the norm in the MSM in the post-WWII era, is now being driven into the ground by the alt-right media, which seeks to discredit and destroy the MSM as a credible source. It’s unfortunate that Ms. Booth is incapable of thinking outside the box of that failed, dying school of MSM journalism.

    A second rate intellect just copies the received wisdom of the establishment who pays their checks, even as the vandals are at their gate, determined to destroy their little bourgeois comfort zone. A first-rate intellect challenges the dated assumptions of a failed system, and has the courage to meet the challenge of history by raising their game to meet the emerging dialectic. Nothing in Ms. Booth’s modest body of published work over forty years has shown that capacity.


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