This is the latest update from the U.S. Committee on Publication Federal Office on the health care reform efforts:
For more than three years, the U.S. Federal Office has been actively engaged in the conversation about health care reform on Capitol Hill to represent the unique perspective of Christian Scientists and others who use spiritual care services—and we are making excellent progress.
Under the 2010 health care law—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the ACA)—most Americans will be required to purchase health insurance by 2014 (except, for example, those who are enrolled in Medicare Part A). For Christian Scientists and others who use spiritual care services, there is a looming inequity: the required health insurance will likely not include the type of care they use, nor does the law provide for a religious exemption that meets their needs.
To remedy this situation, the U.S. Federal Office is pursuing several approaches that have been well-received, including these:
- Requesting that the federal and state governments include coverage of Christian Science practitioner and nursing services in the benefits that will be offered by health insurance plans through the state insurance exchanges. Given the intent of PPACA to provide coverage for all, it seems fair that the law meet the “essential” health needs of all individuals regardless of faith. This would be consistent with the long history of government accommodations for Christian Science health services in Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.
- Seeking a legislative solution with Congress that would allow anyone with a “sincerely held religious belief” against purchasing the mandated health insurance to be exempted from the requirement. The current religious exemption in PPACA gives preference to a few select faiths—allowing the Amish, the Mennonites, and Health Care Sharing Ministries to opt out—without respecting the rights of all faiths. We believe the rights of religious minorities should be respected when it comes to their health care decisions.
We’re very grateful for the many members of Congress who have actively worked on behalf of Christian Scientists in both of these efforts, and we appreciate the continued effective engagement and support of Christian Scientists and their friends as we move forward. If you would like to be in touch with the Federal Office about health care reform, please feel free to email at [email protected], or find out more about what you can do to get involved.