'For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds,’ says the LORD, ‘ Because they called you an outcast saying: ”This is Zion; No one seeks her.” Jer. 30:17
During his time on earth, Jesus healed many people. Our sacred text and theology celebrates healing of body and spirit. Sacred text and theology also compel us to love our siblings as ourselves.
Therefore, supporting the sensible revision of the Affordable Care Act rather than repeal is both a moral and practical issue. Leaving 20 million people without health insurance coverage is no way to treat those siblings. With that said, keeping it in place for them also benefits us.
No one claims the ACA is perfect, so tweaking it is necessary. Congressional leaders and the White House are calling a full repeal, which they believe is the most prudent option. Initially, repeal-and-delay was their game plan. Repeal would occur gradually, while a replacement was crafted.
This work has already begun. Lawmakers passed a budget resolution, which provided the framework for repealing the law, last month. Despite reporting to the contrary, the ACA isn’t dead yet. Even as the ACA lies on life support, replacement plans have been far and few between.
That was until Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Patient Freedom Act of 2017. That legislation repeals the ACA and gives states three options. They include reinstating the ACA with 95 percent federal funding; replacing the law with deregulated insurance markets and health savings accounts; and opting for no replacement at all.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), of course, also presented a plan of his own--The Obamacare Replacement Act. Paul’s plan, upon passage, immediately repeals Obamacare. It would provide a 2-year health insurance enrollment period for people with pre-existing conditions. Premiums would be tax-deductible. People could use health savings accounts to pay premiums. (Of course, these are just some of things for which Paul’s plan calls.)
It’s my view that both plans are inadequate replacements for the Affordable Care Act. Dependence on tax credits and health savings accounts make them nearly useless for low-income Americans. Research has shown nearly 70 percent of Americans have $1,000 or less in savings accounts. They do not have the money on hand to take advantage of these proposals.
As a person of faith advocating for those in need, I believe that any replacement should help the poor and working class. Health savings accounts and tax credits would maintain their access to health insurance in letter only.
Jesus was both a physical and spiritual healer. I believe he would support the right of every person to access quality health care. So, while I pray that legislators opt for repair instead of repeal, I also lift up prayers (and continue to lobby) for a sensible replacement. Amen.