The Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to be one of the most divisive laws passed in the United States in recent history. After several failed attempts by Congress this year to repeal it, there is yet another attempt brewing this week led by Senator Mitch McConnell. Meanwhile, the mandates of the ACA, while far from perfect, continue to provide basic healthcare for millions. The ACA also created benefits that many people enjoy today and may not know are core elements of the law and subject to repeal. These include: eliminating lifetime caps on coverage, the ability to obtain insurance and not be penalized for pre-existing conditions, and keeping young adults on their parents policies until the age of 26. Knowing the truth and not merely the rhetorical soundbites about the ACA can be a matter of life and death.
As those who follow the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, we believe that healthcare is an issue of faith. Those insured and those not insured are all created in the Image of God. Failing to move beyond partisan politics to insure that our neighbors receive the basic healthcare and life saving medical treatment is a failure to honor the God who lives within each of us.
In the coming weeks, the Council will provide information on the status of the ACA and resources for those who need to obtain insurance or to renew their current coverage. For now it is important to remind our congregations that health insurance coverage through the ACA is available and in many cases the only insurance affordable for people in a low-middle income bracket, people with pre-existing conditions, young adults, the unemployed and/or people employed by small businesses that do not offer insurance coverage.
While unable to repeal the ACA, the Federal Government continues to take steps to handicap it. Their most recent proposed 90% cuts to the ACA’s advertising budget will reduce not only the ability to inform the public about their options, but will also hinder those groups that help customers find insurance options best suited for their needs and then navigate the process of enrolling. Furthermore, the open enrollment period for signing up has been cut in half.
The NC Council of Churches is joining a number of other groups to share accurate information so that people will not miss the chance to obtain health insurance as the debate continues about their right to do so. What you need to know:
- The Affordable Care Act is still the law.
- Open enrollment for 2018 runs November 1 – December 15, 2017.
- Help is available for anyone who wants to learn more about the ACA and/or enroll. It may be harder to find this year, but there are groups dedicated to helping folks navigate insurance options. Two resources are www.ncgetcovered.org and www.healthcare.gov.
- The Council’s website, www.ncchurches.org has an abundance of information about the ACA through the lens of faith. Use the search tool to obtain worship tools and access to a series of past articles.
Communities of faith have a moral imperative to fix a broken healthcare system and not be overcome or inactive because of the politics that surround the issue. Together we can advocate that a just solution be found. One that honors our commitment to God and to each other.