The Federal Office of the Christian Science Committee on Publication held a Town Hall Forum this summer to discuss the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Law of 2010, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This post is to summarize what was discussed regarding the implications of this law for Christian Scientists, how the Committee is responding, and what you can do to help.
Last week, Milford Assistant Committee on Publication Don Alusic attended a local event sponsored by United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen and asked a staff member for an opportunity to discuss Christian Science health care insurance coverage. This led to a meeting between Senator Shaheen’s staff and the Federal office to ask for support for a Congressional bill that would exempt Christian Scientists from the Federal mandate to buy health insurance (similar to Massachusetts’ religious conscience exemption).
According to the new Federal ACA law, by 2014 all Americans must have or purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty. If you are covered by Medicare (for those 65 or older), Medicaid (for those with low income), Tri-Care (for those in the military), a Veterans’ insurance plan, or an employer plan, you will meet the requirement. The government will subsidize the cost for those less able to afford it. The penalty starts out small the 1st year ($95 or 1% of the family’s income), but increases to $695 or 2.5% by 2016.
At present, there is neither accommodation for nor exemption from these requirements for Christian Scientists. The Federal Office of the Committee on Publication, with the support of the Christian Science Board of Directors, has been working diligently on Capitol Hill however, and that dialog is progressing. They are proceeding patiently and prayerfully. They have garnered support from many legislators either to include Christian Science treatment and care in the benefits offered or to exempt Christian Scientists from the health insurance requirement.
By 2013, States are required to set up Exchanges or insurance marketplaces where individuals may “shop” for insurance coverage. New Hampshire voted to let the Federal Government set up the exchange instead. The New Hampshire Committee has been involved with the group helping to implement the exchange. We have received some support for the inclusion of Christian Science care in the benefits offered. Our goal is to be included in at least one of the insurance plans.
How can you help? Most importantly by giving this your prayerful attention.
Nathan Talbot, the chairman of The Christian Science Board of Directors, addressing Christian Scientists during the Town Hall Forum, asked them to affirm the God-given qualities belonging to each individual involved in the process, whether in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of government; qualities such as wisdom, patience, intelligence; and to recognize and celebrate the presence of the Comforter as providing the ultimate care for mankind, knowing that the human scene will find its appropriate adjustment.