Health-care decision applauded

Religious leaders at King v. Burwelll rally in front of Supreme Court

The Rev. Cynthia Abrams, director of Health & Wholeness at the United Methodist Board of Church & Society, speaks during an early March rally for health care in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which was hearing oral arguments in King v. Burwell. Over Abrams' left shoulder is the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, top executive of the agency. At left in the photo are Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; and Sandra Sorensen, director of the Washington Policy Office of United Church of Christ, who issued a joint statement with Henry-Crowe and other faith leaders celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision in the case this week.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the Washington Interreligious Staff Council Health Care Working Group, which includes the United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society (GBCS), released a joint statement celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday that ensures millions of people will no longer have to worry about losing health-insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Millions of people will no longer have to worry about losing the subsidies that make their health insurance affordable.

In addition to GBCS, others who signed the statement celebrating the 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell include the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism; Disciples Center for Public Witness (Disciples of Christ); the Islamic Society of North America; the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW); NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; and the United Church of Christ.

The statement

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the health-care subsidies offered in states that use the federally facilitated marketplace is a cause for celebration. Millions of people will no longer have to worry about losing the subsidies that make their health insurance affordable now that the court has affirmed these subsidies should be available in all 50 states. The Affordable Care Act was clearly passed to expand access to affordable health insurance to as many Americans as possible, and yesterday’s ruling emphasizes this important principle.

We were inspired by our sacred texts that emphasize concern for the most vulnerable in our community.

“As a coalition of faith-based organizations that envisions a society where each person is afforded health, wholeness and human dignity, we advocated for the passage of the Affordable Care Act five years ago, and have since worked toward its successful implementation nationwide.

“We were inspired by our sacred texts that emphasize concern for the most vulnerable in our community, and continue to be inspired by these core values today.

“We therefore applaud the court’s decision and hope this decision will inspire elected officials on the state level to increase access to affordable health insurance in their states by expanding Medicaid.”

'Basic human right'

Religious leaders of the organizations also released individual statements.

“The General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church applauds the decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the availability of health-care subsidies in all states,” said the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, GBCS general secretary. “The United Methodist Church says, 'Health care is a basic human right.'

“We are relieved that that the Supreme Court upheld the intention of Congress to ensure that people will continue to receive health-care subsidies. We believe this decision upholds the common good.”

We believe this decision upholds the common good.

Barbara Weinstein, director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, said Jewish tradition emphasizes the imperative of pikuach nefesh, healing and caring for those who are sick within the community.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision affirms the Affordable Care Act that millions of Americans have come to rely on to help keep them healthy,” Weinstein said. “We applaud the court’s decision and the ACA which has strengthened our nation’s health-care system as a whole, and assists with the holy work of helping care for the sick.”

“The Supreme Court ruling on King v. Burwell illustrates to us that we as a nation are headed toward a brighter future,” said Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Office for Interfaith & Community Alliance at the Islamic Society of North America. “One in which ‘We the People’ can truly strive for a healthy life, while enjoying the liberties we have established in our pursuit of happiness."

'Rightly upheld federal financial assistance'

National Council of Jewish Women CEO Nancy Kaufman said the Supreme Court decision marks the latest victory in the decades-long struggle to ensure that all individuals and families in America have quality affordable health care. “The court rightly upheld the federal financial assistance provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ensuring that 6.4 million people in 34 states will be able to keep their coverage,” she said. “Under the ACA, women have gained access to key services previously out of reach due to cost, such as mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, and prenatal care. Women and families have peace of mind knowing their children can access well-child visits, now part of every policy purchased through both the state and federally run marketplace.

“As Jews and as members of the National Council of Jewish Women, we believe each of us is equally deserving of access to the health care we need without risking our financial futures or foregoing other essentials, like housing or food. NCJW worked hard to enact the health-care law, and will continue striving to ensure that every qualified individual can get affordable health coverage, whether through expanded Medicaid or by enrolling in the online health insurance marketplace.”

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies on the federal exchanges. “It is a common-sense ruling based on the needs of our people and the clear intent of Congress,” she said. “It is also in keeping with our Catholic faith that challenges us to care for the sick and the vulnerable. It is these subsidies that enable families and individuals to purchase needed health care.

“This decision is good for our vulnerable families, good for our nation and in keeping with our faith. It is a win on all sides.”

Victory for common decency

The Rev. Geoffrey Black, general minister and president of United Church of Christ, said: “We are delighted that the Supreme Court has decided not to jeopardize health-care insurance for millions of Americans by eliminating subsidies for those who live in states that do not provide their own health-insurance exchanges.

“This is a victory for common decency and equality in America. I hope this will put an end to the many attempts by some people in Congress to limit or dismantle the ACA.”

Sandra Sorensen, director of the Washington Policy Office of United Church of Christ, applauded the court upholding the subsidies that allow working and low-income Americans access to affordable coverage under ACA. “Communities of color in particular are overrepresented among the uninsured population and disproportionately face barriers to quality, accessible, affordable health care,” she said. “The Affordable Care Act is an important step in addressing the glaring racial inequities in health-care access and coverage.

“The Court’s decision is an encouraging signal that we continue to move toward the moral vision of quality, affordable, accessible health care for all that truly honors the image of God embodied in every person.”

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