The Affordable Care Act From A Christian’s Worldview

Posted: November 7, 2013 in Healthcare and Faith, Healthcare Reform, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer

Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama. There are few laws enacted by our legislature in the history of the United States that have been fraught with more division among Christians than the ACA or “ObamaCare”. Far too often, discussions about this topic are filled with partisan talking points, strong emotions, cliché arguments, and misinformation on all sides.

But we as Christians are to look at the world differently. Jesus does not call us to look at the world through Republican, Democrat, or Tea Party “glasses”. Rather, we are heirs of a King (Titus 3:7) whose Kingdom is “not of this world” (John 17:14, 18:36). Philippians 3:20 says, “our citizenship is in heaven” and that citizenship is not in an earthly nation or government. When we remove our partisan, earthly glasses and struggle to look at the world through the eyes of our Savior, the view is dramatically different from any other pair of political “spectacles”.

A few weeks ago I emailed a group of Christians whose political and social perspectives ranged from one extreme to another. But they all had in common a deep love for God and for his people. I asked them to list for me their key spiritual, “Kingdom” concerns about the Affordable Care Act. They sent me a number of thoughts and as I sifted through their fears, I realized that many of their anxieties were based on misinformation, false rumors, or just the unknown. And so, I researched many of their suggestions and compiled what I hope my readers find is helpful and unbiased information from a Christian’s worldview. I plan to make this a “working document” that I will update with the latest information as it becomes more available. I welcome your thoughtful, spirit-filled comments and suggestions for other discussion points.

Employer Mandate:

“Employers are forced to provide insurance that reimburses for abortions” or “I am afraid my money is going to fund abortions”

DISCUSSION: This is an ever-changing mandate that has been challenged many times in the last few years. At present, the Affordable Care Act does mandate employers with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance to their employees. This insurance must provide certain essential services, including the mandate to cover contraceptive services. According to HHS, these services include drugs like “Plan B” or the “Morning-After Pill” which many view as an abortive medication. However, many have filed lawsuits to fight this mandate.

Certain religious organizations (like churches and other organizations whose purpose is primarily religious) are exempt from the contraception mandate).5

In July, 2013, the White House announced it would delay the employer mandate until January 2015. 4

On November 1, 2013, in Gilardi v. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal court determined, that the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Act trammels the right of free exercise—a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties—as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”3

1. http://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/12/12-6294.pdf. Accessed October 27, 2013.

2. http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/hobbylobby.asp. Accessed October 27, 2013.

3. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/814108-gilardi-vs-hhs.html. Accessed November 7, 2013.

4. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/07/02/white-house-delays-employer-mandate-requirement-until-2015/. Accessed November 7, 2013.

5. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-15/pdf/2012-3547.pdf. Accessed November 7, 2013.

6. 1. http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2013/September/18/contraception-mandate-challenges.aspx. Accessed November 7, 2013.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Genesis 1:27: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them”.

Psalm 127:3: “Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward”.

Psalm 139: 13,15: “You knit me in my mother’s womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret”.

Exodus 20:13: “Thou shalt not kill” and Christ reaffirms it (Matthew 19:18).

Sex Change Surgeries:

“Sex change is paid for by ObamaCare”

http://www.afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147486140 accessed November 7, 2013.

DISCUSSION: Sex change is not reimbursable by Medicare or Medicaid under the new Affordable Care Act law.1

1. http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/ncd-details.aspx?NCDId=83&ncdver=1&bc=AgAAQAAAAAAA&. Accessed October 27, 2013.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Not a true statement.

Health Care For the Poor:

“ObamaCare will help the poor”

DISCUSSION: The Affordable Care Act places rules in place that work to provide health care to low-income populations in the following ways:

  • Medicaid Expansion: Federal funds are offered to states that choose to expand Medicaid. This will expand Medicaid eligibility to families and individuals up to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level. Some argue that since this mandate was determined to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court5, many of the poorest of the poor will still not have access to affordable health care.4
  • Health Insurance Exchanges have been set up and subsidies will be provided to people falling between 100% and 400% of the FPL.3
  • Health Insurance companies will be forced to limit out-of-pocket expenses to help the poor from going bankrupt from medical expenses. This provision has been delayed until 2015.1,2

1.http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-aca12.html#3. Accessed November 7, 2013.

2. http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/health-care/another-obamacare-delay-out-pocket-limits-pushed-2015. Accessed November 7, 2013.

3. http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/. Accessed November 7, 2013.

4. http://kff.org/health-reform/state-indicator/state-activity-around-expanding-medicaid-under-the-affordable-care-act/. Accessed November 7, 2013.

5. http://kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/a-guide-to-the-supreme-courts-decision/. Accessed November 7, 2013.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Leviticus 19:9-11: When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 15:11: There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Psalm 82:3-4: Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Proverbs 14:31: He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 19:1: Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.

Proverbs 19:17: He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Proverbs 21:13: If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 22:2: Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.

Proverbs 29:7: The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Job 30:25: Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?

Isaiah 61:1: The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…

Jeremiah 22:16: He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. “Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.

Zechariah 7:10: Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.

Matthew 25:37-40: Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Mark 10:21: looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Luke 12:33: Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

Luke 14:12-14: Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

1 Corinthians 13:3: If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

James 2:5: Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

Forced Abortions:

“Doctors could be forced to facilitate abortions or prescribe drugs that violate their convictions.”

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2013/October/Obamacare-May-Trigger-Exodus-of-Christian-Doctors/, accessed October 2, 2013.

DISCUSSION: This is not true. There is no mandate for doctors to facilitate abortions. There is no evidence to support this.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Not a true statement.

Christian Health Care Sharing Ministries are Exempt:

“Sharing ministries are exempt from the individual mandate penalty.”

DISCUSSION: The ACA allows those participating in Christian Health Care Sharing Ministries to be exempt from the individual mandate penalty if they meet certain criteria.1 These plans do not pay for abortions, “morning after pills”, or for other specified lifestyle choice interventions2.

There are only three organizations in the nation that qualify for these exemptions:

1. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ148/pdf/PLAW-111publ148.pdf. (p. 107, 128) Accessed November 7, 2013. 2. http://mychristiancare.org/medi-share/. Accessed November 7, 2013.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Acts 2: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%202&version=NIV

Acts 4: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%204&version=NIV

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Comments
  1. AustinMum says:

    I am very disappointed in this post. You completely disregarded the main discussion we had, which was that there is a huge difference between voluntarily giving to the poor and demanding, at the point of the government gun, that others give to the poor. I contended that when God’s people voluntarily give to the poor, God is glorified, but when God’s people vote to force their neighbors pay high taxes (and the ACA IS a tax) so that the government can set up programs to help the poor, the government is glorified. I do not believe trying to make the government replace God is a healthy Christian response to poverty. You make it seem as if the ONLY way to help the poor is through government coercion. I strenuously disagree. I have lived long enough to see neighbors raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help families with health needs. Further, I believe that the Bible clearly depicts a God who cares about hearts and relationships, not about ending suffering on earth.

    You also fail to distinguish between Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance policies which must meet new standards under the ACA. The latter may well include sex change operations, abortions, etc. It all depends upon what the bureaucracy decides to do.

    Further, “delayed until 2015” means that the provision is indeed a part of the law, but the politicians did not want it to be public knowledge until after the 2014 elections. That is not at all the same as “not true.”

  2. Jake Johensen says:

    The danger that a “Christian thinker” falls into is that the promise is that the government will help the poor. As Christians we want to help the poor, so we say, “Yeah, let’s do that!” The problem is that government does not help the poor. No government anywhere in the history of this world has helped the poor. The individuals are elected on promises to “help the little man” but once they meet with decision makers, people in power, and people able to pay for that person in power to hear THEIR side of the situation, the little man who voted the representative into office is quickly forgotten. God did not want his people to have a king. God was their king.

    1 Sam 8 starting with vs 11: “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. 18 Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

    Things have not changed, but instead of a king, we have a president who does the exact same. This is not a bash on Obama. This is a bash on people who believe in Government rather than believing in God. The reason that the ACA even exists as a bill is because the Christian nation of the U.S.A. has decided that the government should be doing our christian works while we just live our lives. We’ll pay to caesar what is caesar’s and hope that he takes care of the poor. Right? Well, he isn’t. He hasn’t. He never has and he never will. But he will continue to promise that he will take care of the poor so that the poor keep voting him into office. And if he mandates that a percentage of what you have given to the government to “help the poor have insurance” also kills babies, what’s the big deal, right? Those babies would probably have never come to know Jesus anyways… Right?

    If you support this terrible bill in any way, you have been duped and refuse to see it for what it actually is.

  3. Lanita says:

    Thank you, Kyle, for a careful, well thought-out document. I’m sure it will be helpful to many folks with those questions you addressed here.

  4. Marty Highfield says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful commentary & other links, Kyle. 4 comments at this time: 1) Individual Christian employers (notably http://blog.heritage.org/2013/11/26/supreme-court-hear-challenges-obamacare-anti-conscience-mandate/) and even Catholic orders (http://www.becketfund.org/scotusgrantsrelief/) are having to fight in the courts for religious liberty. Many editorials opposed to these groups reveal authors who do not understand conscience and reduce the concept of conscience to feelings on the one hand or law on the other. 2) Also while requirements of ACA may be misunderstood, I believe ACA incentives will drive forward a culture of poverty. 3) Finally it is unjust to expose citizens to identity theft by requiring them to enter information into an unsecured environment–little discussed but huge. and 4) No one should mistake for political ideology those Christian views that may sometimes overlap with those of democrats, republicans or others.

    God speed as we seek to serve those in need of healing of the whole person. -Marty

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