Affordable Care Act
Stymied in Congress by the failure of Senate Republicans to pass legislation to dismantle Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, Trump's executive order marks his administration's latest effort to undermine the 2010 law without action by lawmakers.
The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson ACA repeal bill is the most radical and most disruptive plan to reorder one-sixth of the U.S. economy, in no small part due to the rush to pass something, anything that would fulfill the 7-year Republican promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare” ahead of a critical Sept. 30 deadline this Saturday. On Oct. 1 a new fiscal year starts for the U.S. government, forcing the GOP to start over with the complex budget maneuvering that allows them to pass a bill with only 50 votes in the Senate rather than the 60 that are generally required.
I’m grateful for the 10 governors — Republican and Democrat — who wrote to senators asking them to reject the so-called “skinny repeal” because of how it would affect their residents.
I’m grateful for the thousands of you who heeded Sojourners’ call and contacted your member of Congress to voice your opposition to any bill that would hurt the poor with devastating cuts to Medicaid.
For the third week in a row, clergy showed up on Capitol Hill to protest Senate action on health care.
As in past weeks, some were arrested. But on this Tuesday, the group ratcheted up the drama by marching to the Capitol, carrying a cardboard coffin and poster-sized death certificates for those who would lose health insurance.
As people of faith who believe that concern for the health of our fellow children of God is mandated by our Savior Jesus (“I was sick and you took care of me” – Matthew 25:36) this is a time to give thanks to God. We are grateful that wisdom and compassion have, at least temporarily, triumphed over cynicism and greed.
In essence, we have struggled to understand the work and responsibility of Christian compassion in issues of healthcare and policy. Should this responsibility be shared by all and secured by the government, or should it primarily be the domain of people of faith and those moved by a higher calling to mercy and healing? With the new GOP Health Care Bill, and the ongoing debates about healthcare in America, Christians across the aisle struggle to evaluate how well we are doing at caring for the disenfranchised and the sick.
While not yet final, the regulation appears intended to let employers avoid providing birth control coverage if they object for any reason — an expansion of the original effort to exempt those with religious objections. As a result, abortion rights groups warn that up to 55 million women could lose free birth control coverage — something that saves them $1.4 billion annually.
Pollution, poverty, and war take their toll on our health in ways beyond our control, and yet health care in our nation is still treated as a commodity for those who can afford it, rather than as a right for all. It is unthinkable that our nation can build pipelines that poison clean drinking water but expect citizens to suffer without affordable treatment due to lead exposure. It is unacceptable that some communities are trapped in cycles of poverty through discrimination often born of racism but cannot afford the medicine they need because their money must go to cheap, often less-nutritious food. And while it is unconscionable that our nation spends more on destroying lives abroad than it does on saving lives at home, the damage from war exceeds mere monetary cost. Investing in fighting an enemy abroad fuels enmity and distrust at home, putting undo stress on us and eroding our sense of compassion.
The talk — a surprise for all in the audience — recapitulated the key themes of the Argentinian pope’s view of the human person: We are all related and interconnected; scientific and technological progress must not be disconnected from social justice and care for the neighbor; and that the world needs tenderness.
I am a scholar of modern Catholicism and its relations with the world of today. From my perspective, there are two essential elements of this talk that are important to understand: the message of the pope and his use of the media.
The May 13 speech at Liberty’s football stadium in Lynchburg, Va., will be Trump’s first commencement address as president, but it won’t be his first at Liberty, which describes itself as the largest Christian university in the world.
The then-presidential candidate spoke last year at the university’s Convocation, promising, “I will protect Christians,” and famously stumbling over a reference to “Two Corinthians.”
If you don’t need or want insurance, some ask, why should you have to pay for other people’s coverage?
I know people who think this way, and they resent having the government obligate them to pay into the system.
Understanding that many Americans struggle and pay a high cost under the Affordable Care Act, we cannot really blame some for holding this position. But responsible citizenship compels us to take a broader view.
This time of crisis may also be a time of opportunity for people of faith, as the Matthew 25 Pledge and other calls to action are asking. Of course, U.S. faith-based activism played a critical role in the abolition movement, the labor movement, the civil rights movement, and many other historic efforts to fulfill the gospel message. And Trump’s unlikely ascendance to the presidency is prompting some social movement experts to point back to the faith community for next steps.
Bishops will examine proposals to amend or replace Obamacare but said that “for now that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing.”
For much of its long history in the U.S., the Catholic Church was known as the champion of the working class, a community of immigrants whose leaders were steadfast in support of organized labor and economic justice – a faith-based agenda that helped provide a path to success for its largely working-class flock.
In recent decades, as those ethnic European Catholics assimilated and grew wealthier, and as the concerns of the American hierarchy shifted to battles over moral issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, traditional pocketbook issues took a back seat.
The Supreme Court decided on May 16 to defer to lower courts any decision regarding the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate.
Of course Obamacare is failing.
Not quite as badly as No-Obamacare was failing, so I'm still glad it exists. It's a necessary stopgap until we find a system that actually works. But you know what? Single-payer healthcare will fail just as badly.
Yes, I know that single-payer healthcare systems succeed in other developed nations. I also know that competitive insurance-based healthcare systems succeed elsewhere. But neither system will succeed in the United States, because the U.S. is the only nation on earth that refuses to keep healthcare spending from spiraling out of control. If the cost remains the same, it doesn't matter who's paying. In the long run, we all are.
THIS SUMMER’S ATTEMPT to dismantle the Affordable Care Act began as the very height of frivolous lawsuits. Cooked up with the help of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank, the case (King v. Burwell) depended upon a very narrow reading of four words in Section 36B of the ACA: “established by the State.”
Essentially, Obamacare foes argued that Congress intended to provide health-care subsidies (or tax credits) only to those Americans living in states with state-operated insurance exchanges. Those who lived in states without exchanges—including Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, and others—and were, therefore, dependent upon the federal exchange would be ineligible for subsidies.
Of course, Congress intended no such thing—as the Supreme Court upheld. Throughout dozens of hearings and hundreds of hours of debate, it was clear that ACA subsidies would be available to every American, regardless of what state they lived in.
In a 6-3 ruling, the court rejected King, with Chief Justice Roberts explaining, “A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
Had the suit carried the day, 6.4 million Americans would have lost their subsidies.
With some members of Congress and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in the audience, Obama’s speech was entirely about the success of his signature legislation and the need to keep it alive.
Obama recited statistics on how many uninsured are now covered and on the economic value of “portable plans in a competitive marketplace.” But he anchored his speech in the faith-based association’s moral calling.
“What kind of country do we want to be?” he asked in a series of rhetorical questions:
Is access to care a commodity “only for the highest bidders?” Or is it “a fundamental right?”