Health-care act constitutional

Thousands of people milled about in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28 awaiting the justices’ decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. (Picture by Michelle Whittaker from the third floor of the United Methodist Building.)

WASHNGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) issued a statement celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court decision this week to uphold the constitutionality of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, upheld the 2010 health-care law.

The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, upheld the 2010 health-care law. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

ACA is a “huge step in the right direction,” according to the GBCS statement, which was signed by Jim Winkler, chief executive, and the Rev. Cynthia Abrams, director of Alcohol, Other Addictions & Health Care.

“Everyone should have health care,” they declare in their statement.

‘Right to Health Care’

The United Methodist Church’s historic position holds that health care is a basic human right, they point out. They emphasize the denomination’s position (Social Principles, ¶162V. "Right to Health Care") is informed by biblical and theological witness.

We celebrate provisions in [the ACA] that continue to fill the gaps and expand existing health care, particularly to low-income Americans.

“We celebrate provisions in [the ACA] that continue to fill the gaps and expand existing health care, particularly to low-income Americans,” they state.

GBCS’s statement includes an assessment by Lonnie Chafin, treasurer of the United Methodist Northern Illinois Conference, about ACA’s positive financial impact.

“I expect our conference’s annual health-care costs to go from $15,500 to $6,000 per appointment,” Chafin said. “We should reduce health-care spending from just over $5 million a year to barely above $2 million.”

The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.

GBCS’s statement follows:

Statement on the Supreme Court ruling
on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act

The General Board of Church & Society celebrates today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act.

The United Methodist Church’s historic position that health care is a basic human right is informed by our biblical and theological witness. Everyone should have health care.

We should reduce health-care spending from just over $5 million a year to barely above $2 million.

The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act is a huge step in the right direction and we celebrate provisions in that law that continue to fill the gaps and expand existing health care, particularly to low-income Americans.

Among popular provisions in the health-care law expand the Medicaid program for poor people, provide coverage for young people up to the age of 26, and ensure no one is refused coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The health-care law places a priority on the common good and demonstrates Jesus’ message to “love our neighbor.”

The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act will have a positive impact on The United Methodist Church in terms of cost savings. Northern Illinois Annual Conference Treasurer Lonnie Chafin says,

I expect our conference’s annual health-care costs to go from $15,500 to $6,000 per appointment. We should reduce health-care spending from just over $5 million a year to barely above $2 million. I believe that many of the associate pastor positions that went to lay people to shed benefits can transfer back to elders. I reckon we will gain 20 appointments in associates and small church pastorates.

Quite frankly, without the Affordable Care Act I don't see how we will be able to continue to provide health insurance as a conference. While we weren't paying attention, the number of people and employers unable to provide health insurance has increased such that it is about to include us.

As provisions of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act continue to roll out through 2018, we will continue to see its positive aspects provide peace of mind to millions of Americans who formerly faced the anxiety of being without health-care coverage.

—Jim Winkler, General Secretary,
and The Rev. Cynthia Abrams, Director,
Alcohol, Other Addictions & Health Care
General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church

June 28, 2012

 

Letter to the Editor