Acton Institute Powerblog

Obamacare Forces Methodists to Drop Coverage

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umcWhen the Obamacare legislation was rushed through Congress in 2010, Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the Council of Bishops for The United Methodist Church (UMC), said he “rejoiced” at the passage of the bill because it aligns with the denomination’s values. But now, many Methodists bishops — and other Christian clergy — are wishing they hadn’t waited for the bill to pass to find out what was in it.

According to a statement released by the UMC’s General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, clergy and lay employees of United Methodist churches may soon lose their health care coverage due to some coming Obamacare provisions:

This potential loss of benefits is due to an oversight in the writing of the bill which overlooked clergy and lay employees of churches as potential recipients of special tax credits for the purchase of health insurance.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Church Health Plan Act of 2013 to fix this problem. The Affordable Care Act provides low and moderate income individuals and families with tax credits to cover the cost of commercial health insurance plans. The Pryor-Coons bill would extend the same tax benefits available to the general public to clergy and church employees receiving coverage from church health plans. Nationwide, more than 1 million clergy and church employees are covered by church health plans.

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is among the largest Protestant denominations in the U.S. Barbara A. Boigegrain, chief executive of the UMC pension and health benefits board, observed, “The majority of pastors and church workers are among the country’s low-to-moderate income level workers. They deserve to receive the full tax benefit under the law that corporate workers at small businesses will receive to help offset the cost of health insurance premiums or of health care costs. In the rush to establish a health care system that works for everyone, churches were overlooked. We ask our congressional leaders to represent all workers in the country, as they consider and vote on this legislation.”

In 2010 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We have to pass the bill so that you find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” Now that the “fog of controversy” is lifting, Obamacare supporters are beginning to realize they’ve hurt themselves by blindly supporting the disastrous legislation.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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