ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Throwing one million clergy under the bus?
Now, given that the original source for this is Ed Kilgore, Democratic apparatchik, I have to think the agenda is getting the Republicans to open up ObamaCare for legislative "fixes," which are sorely needed. That said, one million people, clergy and clergy support or not, is a pretty big number to throw in the wrong bucket. Religion Dispatch:
[T]t seems that a number of churches have been asking for a fix to the Affordable Care Act. So far, they've been getting a receptive hearing from Democrats on Capitol Hill—but not Republicans. Here’s the nub of the problem they’re trying to solve:
Without the requested “fix,” as many as one million clergy members and church employees now enrolled in church-sponsored health plans could soon face the choice of leaving these plans (designed to meet their unique needs, such as the frequent reassignment of clergy across state lines*) or losing access to the tax subsidies provided by the ACA to help lower-to-middle income Americans purchase insurance.
Observers generally agree that the exclusion of church health plans from eligibility for the exchanges, which occurred because they do not sell policies to the general public, was an oversight caused by staffers scrambling to draft bill language under tight deadlines**. Because employees of religious institutions are usually paid modestly, many will qualify for subsidies made available on a sliding scale to families earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. But the subsidies can only be used to purchase insurance from the exchanges. …
Without the “fix,” [a representative of the Southern Baptist Convention] said, clergy would be “forced out” of church plans to access the benefits they would otherwise be entitled to receive under the law. And that in turn could threaten the viability of the plans themselves. Among the supporters of the Pryor-Coons effort are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Presbyterian Church. The legislation also enjoys the backing of the Church Alliance, a coalition of religious organizations represented by the firm K&L Gates.***
I can confirm the problem, from both professional and (doleful) personal experience. One Board of Pensions member for the Presbyterian Church (USA) recently estimated that dues paid to his board for health insurance “amounted to just 8 percent of effective salary” in the 1980s. “Now they come to 21 percent, and that’s still not enough to cover expenses.” Church programs tend to be expensive because they’re small, and because the people they cover are typically older than average. (Clergy as a whole are older than most professionals, and church programs also cover retirees.)
Spiraling health-care costs can put quite a bit of pressure on churches, particularly small congregations.
Just one of the many Easter Eggs built into ObamaCare.
And all of these problems, every single one of them, are caused by the willful refusal of the entire political class -- including Obama -- to treat health care as a right, put single payer Medicare for All on the table, and adopt a simple and above all proven health care solution. I mean, sweet Jeebus. Now each state is a bucket, and a million people fall between those buckets!
NOTE * That's the very first thing this abomination asks you for: Your state. So right out of the box, the ObamaCare website isn't built for those who need to move a lot for their work; I would think that applies also to students, especially grad students, and adjuncts.
NOTE ** Oh, blame the staffers. That's rich. It just couldn't be the fault of Wellpoint's Liz Fowler, who drafted the bill on behalf of the insurance companies, or Max Baucus!
NOTE *** Who I am sure had nothing whatever to do with planting this story in Kilgore's column.