Health Care

President Barack Obama signs the health insurance reform bill, March 23, 2010. P

President Barack Obama signs the health insurance reform bill, March 23, 2010. Photo via RNS.

An effort to tweak President Obama’s health care reform bill to fill a gap for church health insurance plans could fail because of Republicans’ insistence on repealing the law.

Without a fix, United Methodist Church leaders say some of their churches could drop current coverage for employees once “Obamacare” takes full effect next year, according to Colette Nies, spokeswoman for the UMC’s General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.

Under Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, more than 50 percent of UMC clergy would qualify for tax credits available to lower- and middle-class families to purchase insurance. But because of the way the law was written, those tax credits cannot be used toward insurance plans churches can offer through government-run exchanges.

LaVonne Neff 08-05-2013
Puzzle of human skeleton with missing portion of hip. Photo courtesy Lightspring

Puzzle of human skeleton with missing portion of hip. Photo courtesy Lightspring/shutterstock.com

Opponents of Obamacare like to talk about how long it takes to get a hip replacement in, say, Canada —even though the Affordable Care Act is nothing like the Canadian health plan. Let's put this in perspective. How about a system that charges so much that some middle-class insured people can't afford a hip replacement at all?

... Unless they fly to a Western European country with "socialized" medicine and pay out-of-pocket?

Check out this story about Michael Shopenn, a man whose artificial hip was manufactured in Warsaw, Indiana, a "global center of joint manufacturing." Shopenn, who had health insurance, could not get coverage for a hip operation because his insurer deemed it a pre-existing condition (note: that should no longer be a problem under the ACA). So he ended up flying to Belgium.

Jim Rice 08-02-2013

GOP attempts to circumvent the health-care law range from the inane to downright bullying.

A grassroots resistance movement emerges in North Carolina.

LaVonne Neff 08-01-2013
Health care spending illustration, Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

Health care spending illustration, Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

Old News: U.S. spends more on healthcare, gets worse results

We Americans are first in the world when it comes to per capita healthcare spending, and yet we don't live as long (we're in 51st place), more of our mothers die in childbirth (we're in 47th place), more of our babies die in their first year of life (we're in 50th place) ... well, you've seen the statistics, and they aren't pretty.

Interesting Spin on Old News: Medical and social spending should be seen as a whole

"The truth is that we may not be spending more," wrote Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren Taylor in a 2011 New York Times article — "it all depends on what you count." If you count "the combined investment in health care and social services," such as "rent subsidies, employment-training programs, unemployment benefits, old-age pensions, family support and other services that can extend and improve life," we're in 10th place among developed nations.

Elaina Ramsey 07-25-2013

Thokozile Beatrex Phiri

The Global Fund has a plan to win the fight against the three major diseases of poverty—and it's working.

QR Blog Editor 07-09-2013

House Speaker John Boehner promised today that the House will hold a vote over whether to delay a key part of Obamacare. Politico reports:

The GOP’s message is that President Barack Obama is choosing big business over ordinary Americans after the White House postponed a provision that requires employers provide health insurance for their workers.

The Speaker also called the Administration's actions "wrong" and "outrageous." Read more here.

 

LaVonne Neff 07-05-2013
Premature baby in incubator, Ioannis Ioannou / Shutterstock.com

Premature baby in incubator, Ioannis Ioannou / Shutterstock.com

After I blogged about expensive American childcare earlier this week, my daughter Molly directed me to a March of Dimes web page showing the extremely high rate of preterm births in the United States. "Born Too Soon," a 124-page report issued in 2012, "ranks the U.S. 131st in the world in terms of its preterm birth rate of 12.0 per 100 live births, almost tied with Somalia, Thailand, and Turkey. Nearly half a million babies are born too soon in the U.S. each year."

According to a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control, "the main cause of the United States’ high infant mortality rate when compared with Europe is the very high percentage of preterm births in the United States" — in spite of the fact that "infant mortality rates for preterm (less than 37 weeks of gestation) infants are lower in the United States than in most European countries." In addition, "infant mortality rates for infants born at 37 weeks of gestation or more are higher in the United States than in most European countries."

Bob Smietana 07-01-2013

Memphis' Congregational Health Network has become a model for how hospitals and faith communities can work together.

Alicia de los Reyes 07-01-2013

Is faith healing a sign that the Spirit is moving—or a response to economic pressure and a broken health-care system?

QR Blog Editor 06-18-2013

"Obamacare" continues to be at the forefront of our nation’s health care epidemic. A recent report from PwC shows falling numbers within the system that are due to affect the overall cost of health care policies next year. Despite PwC’s report that the costs of health care are lower than years prior, critics claim that costs still aren’t where they need to be. The Associated Press reports:

For years U.S. health care spending has grown much faster than the overall economy and workers' wages, but since the recession those annual increases have slowed dramatically. The debate now is whether that's a continuing trend. The answer will be vitally important, not only for companies and their employees, but for taxpayers who foot the bill for government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Obama's coverage expansion

Read more here.

QR Blog Editor 04-30-2013

The first draft of form was confusing and complex so the Obama administration has created a simplified application for healthcare. The Associated Press reports:

Details to be released Tuesday include a three-page short form that single people can fill out, administration officials said. Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner, also overseeing the rollout of the health care law, called it "significantly shorter than industry standards."

Read more here.

LaVonne Neff 04-17-2013
Outline of Tanzania, Aleksandar Mijatovic / Shutterstock.com

Outline of Tanzania, Aleksandar Mijatovic / Shutterstock.com

I spent an entire day a couple of months ago in an outpatient clinic (I'm fine; thanks for asking). I met a lot of nurses, and every one of them was excellent.

When Velda came to take away the remains of my lunch, I offered her my untouched can of ginger ale.

"I don't drink soft drinks," she replied. Since I rarely do either, we started chatting.

Velda grew up in Tanzania, moved to Belgium, spent several years in London, and finally came to the United States. She returns to Tanzania regularly, and she is not happy with what she sees.

"I grew up eating lots of vegetables," she told me. "We might have had ice cream once every three years. But now people are eating American-style junk food. They don't know it's not good for them."

Monique Parsons 02-06-2013
RNS photo by Monique Parsons.

Rami Nashashibi founded IMAN in 1997. RNS photo by Monique Parsons.

CHICAGO — Religious affiliation may be on the wane in America, a recent Pew study asserts, but you wouldn’t know it walking into the storefront near the corner of West 63rd Street and South Fairfield Avenue.

Inside a former bank in a neighborhood afflicted with gang violence, failed businesses and empty lots, a team of volunteers drawn by their religious faith is working to make life better for Chicago’s poorest residents.

The free medical clinic has expanded its hours; 20-something college graduates are clamoring to get into its internship program; rap stars swing by its alcohol-free poetry slams; and the budget has increased tenfold in the past decade.

The storefront belongs to Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and it is part of a wave of new Muslim institutions emerging at an unprecedented pace. More than a quarter of the nation’s 2,106 mosques were founded in the last decade, according to a recent University of Kentucky study, and new social service organizations, many of them run by 20- and 30-something American-born Muslims, are thriving as never before.

Lisa Sharon Harper 11-27-2012

May God cause us to cry out to those mountains of injustice, "Oh freedom!"

The Supreme Court's nearly split decision on the new health care law is mirrored by the American public, according to a new survey.

On Thursday the high court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act, a massive health care overhaul often considered President Obama's signal legislative achievement.

A poll taken days before the high court's ruling found that 43 percent of Americans said the court should not overturn the law, and 35 percent hoped it would.

Lisa Sharon Harper 06-29-2012

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government does hold the constitutional power to mandate that most American's purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. This power is maintained in Congress’s ability to levy taxes.

The justices also ruled that the federal government does hold the constitutional power to expand Medicaid, making more people eligible to receive the benefit, but, like the original Medicaid law of 1965, states can opt out of the expansion if they so choose.

What does this mean? And what does this mean for Jesus followers?

Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Religious groups and social conservatives are reacting to the Supreme's Court's historic ruling that largely upholds President Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act. 

Sr. Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA):

"We are pleased that, based on an initial read of the ruling, the ACA has been found constitutional and will remain in effect. CHA has long supported health reform that expands access and coverage to everyone. We signed onto amicus briefs encouraging the Court to find in favor of the ACA’s individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion. As the ruling is examined, Catholic-sponsored health care providers will continue to lead health care transformation — finding new and better ways to provide compassionate, high-quality care while strengthening the communities we serve."

The Catholic Bishops of the United States urged Congress and President Obama to repair, not replace, the health care law so that it covers immigrants, includes stronger conscience protections, and ensures that it will not fund abortions -- something the law specifically bars:

"Following enactment of ACA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today.The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above.We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws."

Dr. Michael Traylor 06-29-2012
Image by Konstantin Sutyagin / shutterstock.

Image by Konstantin Sutyagin / shutterstock.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. ~ Proverbs 29:18

Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act was remarkable in a number of ways. The vast majority of articles, blogs, and analyses focus on the political ramifications of the decision.

Is this a win for the Obama administration or fuel for the Romney campaign? Pundits have looked at nearly every political angle, from the upcoming presidential election to its effects on local politics.

While I appreciate the political analysis and the importance of political processes to the wellbeing of the United States, I believe that a majority of coverage has missed one of the most remarkable points of the ACA: It changes the vision of our national community.

Rachel Marie Stone 06-29-2012
Illustration via memegenerator.net.

Illustration via memegenerator.net.

Brace yourselves. I’m about to step on a soapbox.*

Much as I’d like to go all armchair-Constitutional-scholar and argue that access to affordable health care SHOULD be in the same category as education, fire-fighting, and law enforcement, I’m not going to.

I’m just going to tell you what has happened in MY family.

February, 2005, California

Pregnant with first child. Am on crappy private insurance that costs like $500 a month in premiums but covers almost nothing. Calculate that cost of having child will be approximately half our yearly income.

Freak out.

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