by Don Ingwerson
The Federal Office has an update as to the progress being made on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Gary Jones, Manager Government Relations Division, details the efforts of the Christian Science movement to seek a legislative solution to the inequity Christian Scientists face under this act:
We find ourselves—to use a sports analogy—in the “fourth quarter” of the Church’s efforts to resolve the inequity facing Christian Scientists under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). As you know, virtually all Americans must obtain medical insurance by January 1, 2014, or else pay a penalty (unless they qualify for an exemption, are at least 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part A, etc.).
We continue to make good progress with our multiple approaches to remedy this unfairness, including:
- Requesting that the federal and state governments include coverage of Christian Science practitioner, Christian Science nursing, and Christian Science nursing facility services in the benefits that will be offered by health insurance plans at the state insurance exchanges, which open October 1 of this year.
- Ultimately, we hope to have an insurance plan covering Christian Science health care services at every state exchange.
- We continue to have productive meetings with federal and state officials as we work to achieve this goal; however, there are no guarantees at this point.
- Seeking a legislative solution with Congress that would allow individuals with a “sincerely held religious belief” that causes them to object to the medical care covered by the required health insurance to be exempted from the insurance mandate.
- The ACA’s existing religious conscience exemption applies only to a few select faiths. There’s now a bill in Congress—the EACH (Equitable Access to Care and Health) Act—that would modestly expand this exemption, using the Massachusetts religious conscience exemption as a model.
- We’re grateful for the broad bipartisan support from Members in both houses of Congress who are actively working in support of this effort; however, there are no guarantees right now.
These efforts are “works in progress”, and we continue to proceed very diligently toward resolution of the ACA’s inequity toward Christian Scientists. We will be stepping up our communications with you as we near the fall of this year.
We’ve seen and experienced firsthand the tremendous engagement and support of Christian Scientists and friends. Wow! From the bottom of our hearts, we say THANK YOU!
Again, we’ll continue to send updates via these newsletters, so please do encourage fellow church members and friends to sign up!
Manager, Government Relations Division of the Committee on Publication
To read Gary Jones’ letter on the Federal Office site, click here: A Note from the Manager of the Government Relations Division