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The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about
Few Bible Belt pastors mention what's in their backyard, millions of poor people trapped in the Obamacare “coverage gap.”
November 8th, 2013
10:01 AM ET

The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - The Rev. Timothy McDonald gripped the pulpit with both hands, locked eyes with the shouting worshippers, and decided to speak the unspeakable.

The bespectacled Baptist minister was not confessing to a scandalous love affair or the theft of church funds. He brought up another taboo: the millions of poor Americans who won’t get health insurance beginning in January because their states refused to accept Obamacare.

McDonald cited a New Testament passage in which Jesus gathered the 5,000 and fed them with five loaves and two fishes. Members of his congregation bolted to their feet and yelled, “C’mon preacher” and “Yessir” as his voice rose in righteous anger.

“What I like about our God is that he doesn’t throw people away,” McDonald told First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta during a recent Sunday service. “There will be health care for every American. Don’t you worry when they try to cast you aside.  Just say I’m a leftover for God and leftovers just taste better the next day!”

McDonald’s congregation cheered, but his is a voice crying in the wilderness. He’s willing to condemn state leaders whose refusal to accept Obamacare has left nearly 5 million poor Americans without health coverage. But few of the most famous pastors in the Bible Belt will join him.

Joel Osteen? Bishop T.D. Jakes, and other prominent pastors throughout the South?

Like McDonald, they preach in states where crosses and church steeples dot the skyline yet the poor can’t get the health insurance they would receive if they lived elsewhere. All declined to comment.

When people talk about the Affordable Care Act, most focus on the troubled launch of its website. But another complication of the law has received less attention: a “coverage gap” that will leave nearly 5 million poor Americans without health care, according to a Kaiser Health Foundation study.

Learn more from Kaiser about the coverage gap in states that refused Obamacare

The coverage gap was created when 25 states refused to accept the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. The people who fall into this gap make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to qualify for Obamacare subsidies in their state insurance exchanges. If they lived elsewhere, they would probably get insurance. But because they live in a state that refused the new health care law, they likely will remain among the nation’s uninsured poor after Obamacare coverage kicks in come January.

The coverage gap has been treated as a political issue, but there is a religious irony to the gap that has been ignored.

Most of the people who fall into the coverage gap live in the Bible Belt, a 14-state region in the South stretching from North Carolina to Texas and Florida. The Bible Belt is the most overtly Christian region in the country, filled with megachurches and pastors who are treated like celebrities.  All but two Bible Belt states have refused to accept the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

Should Bible Belt pastors say anything publicly about the millions of poor people in their communities stranded by the coverage gap? Is it anti-Christian for state leaders to turn down help for the people Jesus called “the least of these"? Or should pastors say nothing publicly about such issues because they are strictly political?

CNN's Sanjay Gupta explains who falls into the coverage gap

Who speaks for the poor in the coverage gap?

When these questions were sent to many of the most popular pastors in the Bible Belt, they hit a wall of silence. Virtually no prominent pastor wanted to talk about the uninsured poor in their midst.

Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in the nation, declined to be interviewed about the subject. So did Bishop T.D. Jakes. Their megachurches are both in Texas, the state with the nation’s highest number of people without health insurance.

Max Lucado, the best-selling Christian author who is a minister at a church in Texas, declined to speak; Charles Stanley, the Southern Baptist pastor in Georgia whose In Touch Ministries reaches millions around the globe, declined to speak; Ed Young Sr. and Ed Young Jr., a father and son in Texas who pastor two of the fastest-growing churches in the nation, also declined to speak. 

Bishop T.D. Jakes declined to talk about the millions of poor people stranded in the “coverage gap."

The list goes on.

The silence is not hard to understand. Obamacare is a polarizing political issue in the Bible Belt. A pastor who publicly weighs in on the subject could divide his or her congregation or risk their job. And some prominent pastors like Osteen are popular in part because they  do not alienate fans by taking political stands.

The Rev. Phil Wages, senior pastor Winterville First Baptist Church in Georgia and a blogger, was one of the few Bible Belt ministers willing to speak on the subject.

He says he won’t preach about the coverage gap created by the state’s rejection of the Medicaid expansion because he has what he calls theological differences with the thrust of the new health care law.

Wages says the Bible teaches that the care of orphans, widows and the sick are given to the church, not to the government. Early Christians were the first to create hospitals, orphanages and hospices.

“I have an issue with the government coming in to get money through me - through taxes - to take care of people, when my argument is that I should be free to give to charities or to my church in order to take care of the sick and destitute,” he says.

Wages says he has no doubt that lack of health insurance is a monumental problem, and that many people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control. Yet there is no New Testament example of Jesus trying to shape public policy on behalf of the poor.

“I do not see any biblical precedent where Jesus ever went to Herod or Pilate and said you should be taking care of the poor,” Wages says. “Jesus told his disciples to take care of the poor and the apostles said the same thing to the early church.”

Wages’ position is impractical and unbiblical, says Ronald Sider, a longtime advocate for the poor and author of “The Scandal of Evangelical Politics."

Churches and charities don’t have enough resources to take care of an estimated 48 million Americans who don’t have health care. The Bible is filled with examples of God's fury over economic oppression of the poor, which Christians should regard as scandalous, he says.

“If you are not sharing God’s concern for the poor, it raises huge questions about whether you are a Christian at all,” he says about pastors who say nothing about the uninsured poor.

“As God’s spokespersons, you ought to be talking about God’s concern for the poor as much as God. In the richest nation in world history, it’s contradictory to have millions without health insurance.”

“It absolutely stinks”

The coverage gap may inspire a religious debate, but for its victims the issue is raw and personal.

A recent New York Times article about the coverage gap revealed that many of its victims are the working poor: cooks, cashiers, sales clerks and waitresses.

“These are people who are working people but they haven’t been able to afford health insurance or their employers don’t offer it and they’re stuck,” says Andy Miller, editor of Georgia Health News, a nonprofit news organization that covers health news in the state. “A lot of these folks have chronic health conditions.”

They are people like Shelley “Myra” Mitchell, a single mom with four children who makes $9 an hour working at a Chick-fil-A in Georgia. She makes $18,000 a year – too much for Georgia’s existing Medicaid program, but not enough to qualify for subsidies to sign up for Obamacare’s insurance marketplace in Georgia.

Mitchell’s voice grew edgy with frustration when asked to describe her health needs. She rang up about $20,000 in emergency room bills because she has no health insurance. She can’t afford to get pap smears, go to the dentist or get surgery for a two-year-old hernia. She can’t take medication for her depression and anxiety because she can’t afford it.

She thought she could get help under Obamacare but recently learned she can’t because Georgia did not accept the law’s Medicaid expansion.

“It stinks,” she says. “I’ve been dealing with this hernia for two years now, and I can’t get anyone to help me because I don’t have health insurance. It absolutely stinks.”

Why pastors should stay silent about the coverage gap

Mitchell’s plight may stink. But at what point should a pastor go public on such a complex issue, and what could he or she actually say?

Two prominent evangelical pastors openly wrestled with those questions.

Andy Stanley is one of the most popular evangelical pastors in the nation. He is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, a megachurch with at least 33,000 members. He is also the author of the forthcoming book “How to be Rich,” which urges Christians to be "rich in good deeds" instead of wealth. His church recently announced that it donated $5.2 million to Atlanta charities and provided another 34,000 volunteer hours.

Joel Osteen has the largest church in America. He also declined to speak about the coverage gap.

Stanley says the coverage gap disturbs him. The church cannot handle the needs of millions of uninsured people alone and should quit taking shots at government involvement, he says. But he adds that it’s not anti-Christian for political leaders in states like Georgia to turn down the Medicaid expansion for the poor.

“If you really want to know how concerned someone is for the poor ask them what percentage of their personal money they give to organizations that help the poor,” he says. “Ask them how much time they give to organizations that help the poor.”

Stanley says it would be difficult for any pastor to talk about the Medicaid expansion without addressing the entire law.

“I tried to imagine a scenario where I urged people to write our governor encouraging him to reconsider his decision regarding the expansion of Medicaid for the poor,” he says. “As I imagined that, I got the feeling that by the time I finished explaining the issue, people’s eyes would be glazed over.”

Pastors who don't preach one way or the other on Medicaid expansion aren't callous or apathetic, says Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. They may be suspicious of a bigger government and skeptical of whether this move will solve the problem.

“The Bible calls on Christians to answer the cries of the poor,” he says. “All Christians must do that. The question of the Medicaid expansion is a question of how we do that. I don’t hear many people arguing that we shouldn’t care about the plight of the poor when it comes to medical care. The question is a genuine debate about the role of the state.”

Moore says some people have a “utopian view” of what state power can accomplish.

“Government programs sometimes encourage dependency, unintentionally break down family structures, and become unsustainable financially,” Moore says.

Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel megachurch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, wondered aloud about what he could, and should, say.

Florida, which has the second highest number of people without health insurance behind Texas, has not accepted the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Coy says he hasn’t spoken publicly about poor people missing health coverage in Florida. But he has called the governor to get more information.

“I’m not an activist guy. I don’t tell the government what to do. I am a church guy. I teach the Bible.”

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for the poor, though, Coy says. He grew up in a poor family that couldn’t afford to go to the dentist. His church also spends a large percentage of its budget on serving the poor.

Coy says he is suspicious of large-scale programs that are publicly funded because they are often abused.

“One side of our society is saying, 'We need this,' while on the other side is saying, 'This isn’t fair and isn’t going to work.’ So how should a pastor, who has a heart to help people, respond?”

Why pastors should speak out

The Rev. Shane Stanford’s answer to Coy is simple: Talk about justice for the poor like Jesus did.

Stanford is the senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis and author of “Five Stones: Conquering Your Giants.”

He is also HIV-positive. He was born a hemophiliac and contracted the virus when he was 16 during treatment for his illness.

Stanford says he publicly speaks out about the millions of Americans stranded without health coverage because he knows how it feels. Once, after heart surgery, he was getting a transfusion when a nurse came into the room and pulled the needle out of his arm because she said he had maxed out his health insurance coverage.

He says standing up for people in the coverage gap is a matter of justice.

“Sometimes pastors have to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

Stanford ignores fellow pastors who counsel him to be silent about his state and others that refused to accept the Medicaid expansion.

“They say you have to be careful talking about political issues,” he says. “When I look at their lives, part of me thinks they never had that needle yanked out of their arm.”

Conservative pastors who urge their colleagues to avoid politics are hypocrites, says James Cone, a prominent theologian who has spent much of his career writing books condemning white churches for what he says is their indifference to social justice.

“When their own interests are involved, they are very much involved in politics,” Cone says. “Same-sex marriage and abortion – they have no trouble politically opposing them.”

Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, says a nation is defined by how it treats its most vulnerable members. But there is an entrenched hostility to poor people in America that goes unchallenged by some white, conservative Christians, he says.

“When poor people get food stamps, they get mad,” Cone says. “When the rich and corporations get tax breaks and pay no taxes, they don’t say anything.”

McDonald, the pastor who spoke out on behalf of poor people from his Atlanta church, says Jesus provided universal health care. The Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus healing marginalized people.

“He did it for free,” McDonald says of Jesus’ healing. “The reason the crowds gathered around Jesus primarily was for healing. People want wholeness.”

Perhaps the gap between Bible Belt pastors who say nothing about the uninsured poor and those who do is also rooted in history. 

Conservative Christians have traditionally emphasized providing charity to the poor - soup kitchens, donations to impoverished people in undeveloped countries - while progressive Christians have blended charity with calls for public policy changes that help the poor.

The distinction between both approaches was distilled by a memorable quote from the late Brazilian Roman Catholic Bishop Dom Helder Camara, who said: "When I feed the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why so many people are poor they call me a communist."

That may be changing as a new generation of evangelicals rise in the Bible Belt and elsewhere. One minister who speaks to them is the Rev. Timothy Keller, a conservative Christian author who pastors a megachurch in New York.

Keller is the author of “Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just,” a popular book that argues that evangelicals should do more than preach personal salvation; they must “speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.” He is a role model for many younger evangelicals.

“God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to ‘do justice.’ ’’

CNN.com recently contacted Keller to see if he would talk about "Generous Justice" and how it might apply to health care and the poor. Did he think pastors in Bible Belt states should say anything publicly on behalf of poor people being denied basic medical insurance? His publicist said she would contact Keller with the request.

Several days later, she returned with Keller’s answer.

He had no comment. 

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Baptist • Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Courts • Culture wars • Ethics • evangelicals • Fundamentalism • Politics • Poverty

soundoff (3,619 Responses)
  1. Berylene

    We call ourselves a Christian nation, but we slash funds for feeding the poor, refuse to allow the poor to have health insurance, and do everything possible to keep the poor, minorities, and women from voting. I'm sure Christ is ashamed of us. And Christ has to be especially ashamed of his messengers, the preachers and pastors of the Bible Belt who refuse to stand up for God's children (meaning all ages!)

    November 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • randro

      He is ashamed of $17T in debt that is unsustainable.....which will rise with the advent of this socialized medicine.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
      • Michael

        What a shame! People like Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, even Billy Graham, have million dollar homes,and they don't speak out to support 5million poor people. Obamacare is a good thing. Stop the crap about trillion dollar debt, as I truly believe the ROOT CAUSE of all this hate, is racism. When RomneyCare started in Mass., I ddn't hear anyone complaining. Some Christians are just plain old evil. They go to church every Sunday, then begin the hate for the poor, less fortunate, the elderly, etc. Jesus would be ashamed of you. He helped cure the sick, and fed the poor. We are ALL part of our government, and we ALL need to be like Jesus. OK, I'm ready for all the negative, and hateful replies. God Bless.

        November 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  2. PETER IGNAGNI

    IF the christian right wing fanatics PRACTICED what they PREACHED ; then THEY WOULD BE SCREAMING FOR THE POOR AND ELDERLY TO RECEIVE ABSOLUTELY FREE MEDICAL TREATMENT AND TO BE GIVEN GOOD QUALITY CARE

    November 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Michael

      I could not agree with you more. It really is a shame that the evangelical Christians believe that if one doesn't wear THEIR religion on their sleeve, or a politician doesn't mention God Everytime they speak, that they are NOT religious, or don't believe in God.I happen to be a religious guy, but I DO NOT force it on anyone. It's a personal belief! The extreme right wing Christians, such as Ted Cruz, Raphael Cruz, Sarah Palin, sound just as bad the the extreme right wing Muslims! The bigotry, hate, misinformation, lies about Obamacare/ACA only hurt our country. These people are doing this for their own personal gain as well. And they consider themselves Christians? I think not. The United Kingdom began their 'National Health Service' in 1948, yes, 1948. and we are the richest nation in the world, and, as Jesus said, and did, feed the hungry, and heal the sick.
      What ever happened to Christianity?

      November 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  3. tinkabouit

    The numbers are clear; Christians give to the poor in much greater numbers, volunteer in much greater numbers, adopt, start schools, go to medical missions, mentor, visit prisoners (the list goes on and on) than do any other group, including the rich and the liberal. This article is nothing more than a propaganda piece.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Berylene

      So if you're right about this being a propaganda piece, why is it only a regional problem?

      November 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  4. Wade

    Great so Oabmacare is even a bigger rip off and scandal and total failure than I thought. Great news.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • WordUpToo

      This is not an Obamacare issue, it is a state issue. For those unfortunate enough to be poor and live in one of the states that refuses to participate in the increased Medicaid offered by the govt, this is the result. Shame on them for not helping their citizens and shame on these so-call "Men of God" for looking the other way and not speaking out against the injustice.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  5. nc_mike

    Most bible thumpers are total hypocrites – they'd say they'd rather teach a man to fish, but when the man comes back with an empty catch they'll walk on by while he and his family starves and dies in the street. THESE that walk by are the self-proclaimed 'people of God'.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Michael

      You are so correct. Where ARE all of the preachers, who pay NO TAXES, speaking up FOR Obamacare? They have their flock giving them their money, and most could not care less. They'll give out a few canned goods, or rice, but healthcare? No sir. To call some of these preachers, especially the baptist, Christians, is an insult to Jesus. They can stand on a pulpit, say what they like, but they are mostly all haters, bigots, and hypocrites.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  6. McShannon

    These relatively wealthy pastors are sorry examples of Christian faith and much like Peter before Christ's crucifixion they deny him and what they themselves preach. There are few if any Democrat Southern Baptist preachers and none that want to offend a fellow Republican it could hurt the coffers.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  7. QS

    They don't dare speak out about this issue because their core followers are hard-core, conservative Obama-haters.

    Most of these people are too ignorant to realize that it's their own ideology at play here that is leading these conservative-controlled states to decline the expansion of coverage and further harm the poor under the guise of "freedom" or "personal responsibility"...or worse, "Christian principles".

    If any of these popular "pastors" were to speak out negatively about their conservative governor being a d-bag about this issue, they would probably lose over half of their congregation. Those people hate Obama more than they want to help the poor....and the worst part is, they don't even know why they hate him other than why their conservative "leaders" told them they should.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • randro

      That is stupid.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Michael

      You hit the nail right on the head...what gets me is that those idiotic people follow them, AND GIVE THEM MONEY!

      Now that's idiotic!

      November 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  8. janet

    Wow – Jesus said we's always have the poor with us – so that's a reason to let them starve or be in ill health? I believe he also said something about as long as you did it for these, the least of my bretheran, you did it for me? sounds like MM would be the inn keeper who tossed Mary and Joseph out in the cold. What goes around, comes around but I would hope that if MM were ever in need, he would not just be ignored "for his/her own good"

    November 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  9. Arthur Paliden

    Why aren't Bible Belt pastors speaking out about the millions of uninsured poor left behind in their states?

    ----

    Because the Lord will provide.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Moshe Pittuey

      Nope. Your "lord" won't provide a damn thing and you know it. Maybe he would say, "You could help everyone using your central government, but you are too greedy and stupid for that, preferring to murder children with your deliberate and knowing neglect. Hell is too good for people like you, who avoid helping on purpose for the sake of money. You will die and burn in hell."

      November 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  10. Bob Penn

    Yes they should get medical care. The best plan is jobs, not government depndency.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Berylene

      Yes, jobs. I was hired and only a background check away from starting a new, full-time, permanent job with benefits on December 1. Today I got a call that Congress has cut the funds for that job and it won't be happening. This after almost a year and a half of searching for a job. If it takes another year and a half, will I still be alive?

      November 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • F to the U

      They are victims and they deserve all the help we can give them.
      They are Americans and if you don't want to see Americans being helped by Americans, then FUCK YOU.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  11. TXMAN67

    If you only read CNN, you really haven't heard much about any ObamaCare scandals. To the point, when it comes to the election season, the Democrats make sure and let churches know that they cannot preach politics, or they will lose the churches tax exempt status. Maybe the pastors are simply worried about losing the tax exempt status that the Democrats hold over their heads every November.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • asdf

      So you admit they are only concerned over their money, being worthless greedy sleazeballs? Yeah, we knew already.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • John

      TXMN67, you are absolutely right. There are tax consequences. As much money as churches bring in, they'd be out 25%-35% of their revenue to taxes instead of being able to use it to help the needy and poor. I don't know how much a church gives, but I'd rather the money be in the church's hands than the government's. I'm sure the govt/IRS would love to get their hands on this money.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • WordUpToo

        to help the needy and the poor?? More like to help themselves....fancy suits, jewelry, big houses, shiny new cars...we know where the money is REALLY going with these bozos.

        November 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  12. Jesus Christ

    There isn't a church in the world that can give help to everyone, and these sleazy money-grubbers know it.

    They look upon the poor as being "cursed" or "bad", since everyone "knows" that only bad people have bad things happen to them because they angered "god" in some way....right?

    Tell me, all you so-called Christians out there: Do you believe that poor people are being punished by your "god" and so are willing to turn away from helping children in need? You suck at being human beings. Please kill yourselves already.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Peep4Reality

      I love how all the thumpers say that Jesus didn't go to the government to push for help for poor people. For this topic, they clearly don't want religion and politics to mix (because it impacts their pocket book.) For all other topics, they are fine with Jesus in their government. Typical, since they love to pick and choose what Jesus should be involved in. It's hard to keep straight all of the variances in their rules for Jesus and when he can or can't be involved.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Sandra

    Is it any wonder so many are turning so hard against the church and atheism is on the rise?

    November 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  14. sniff it

    States are against a bloated, costly, unsustainable law.... not helping the poor.

    Obamacare is garbage. It was a political move, not a charitable move. If obama and biden were charitable, they'd give their own money.... which they haven't (well, obama did LATELY–because he was called on it).

    November 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Every other developed nation in the world has universal health coverage.
      Why not the richest, most infuential, super-powerful empire on the planet?

      November 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • Bible Belt

        Because universal health care is horrible!! It doesn't work.

        November 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Tell that to the Norwegians who have had universal, single payer coverage for over a century.

          November 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Yup! People living in countries with universal health care are dropping like flies – NOT!

          November 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
        • Robert

          @Doc Vestibule, would you agree that providing universal single payer healthcare for over 300 million people is a little more involved than providing it for 5 million people?

          November 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I wonder what the total population of all the countries with universal health care is? Quite possibly near or more than 300,000,000, I think.

          November 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • Michael

          It does work. Now put your bible down for a minute, stop watching so much fox (faux) news, and think about helping the less fortunate, poor, elderly – If Jesus were here today, he would support Obamacare, and you know it. Lighten up.

          November 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
        • Mart

          Works well in Canada

          November 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • You suck

      No, they are DEFINITELY against helping the poor. You suck at lying. We all KNOW they are against helping the poor, against any kind of government especially ANYTHING that might help the poor.

      You suck. Go die in a fire somewhere and make the world a better place.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Brenda

      How very Christ-like of you. I'll pray for your soul – remember – "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren that you do unto me." it also applies to whatever you don't do!

      November 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Bible Belt

      Well said!!

      November 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  15. CommonSensed

    Maybe they can just pray away the bad?

    November 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  16. Doc Vestibule

    Of the 33 developed nations in the world, 15 are single payer models (in which the government pretty much pays for everything), 9 are two-tier (in which teh gov't provides coverage but citizens can get additional private insurance), and 7 are insurance mandates (a la Obamacare). Every one of them has had universal coverage since the 20th century (for more than 100 years in Norway's case).
    The US is the only country in the developed world that lacks universal health coverage.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      But, but, but! They are the best! Exceptional!!

      November 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  17. BB

    "But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? "

    November 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  18. taxedmore

    Incredible – all those poor people not getting enough free stuff!

    November 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Brenda

      How very Christ-like of you. I'll pray for your soul – remember – "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren that you do unto me." it also applies to whatever you don't do!

      November 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
      • Michael

        Sandra is correct. Church and state should be separate. Now all the bible thumpers will say, but we were founded on jewdeo, Christian principles...Nice talk, but they need to practice what they preach.

        November 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Michael

      Free Stuff - you can't think for yourself? Who have to quote Bill O'Reilly? OMG, you guys need to stop drinking the fox (faux) news hater kool-aid, really. I wonder how you would feel if you, your children, your mother, we're poor, disabled, or had a pre-existing, and you couldn't afford or get healthcare? Would you tell your mother to sto asking for 'Free Stuff' –

      Stop the nonsense.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  19. jake

    All these phony baloney guys are in it for the money, they could care less about people as long as the fools keep stuffing their pockets. God has already issued them first class seats on the bus to hell.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  20. NCWriter

    Maybe the reason it hasn't been mentioned is because access to healthcare has never been an issue. People have access today when they need it, they use an emergency room because it's the place they can't get thrown out of.

    The big problem has been the COST of healthcare. By adding millions of new insured (demand goes up) and driving off doctors (supply goes down), the economic certainty is that the actual care will get more expensive and fewer and fewer people will be able to pay for it themselves.

    This is another example of not having to wish Obamac fails. His polcy will fail and we will all pay the consequences.

    By pay, I mean literally pay...Obamacare madates that every person pay an average of $8200/year. If you're a family of 4 that makes over $90,000, you now have to pay 1/3 of your salary for everyone else to get care...and there is no option not to.

    If this is such a good plan, let's do it for housing. Free houses for everyone, we'll just mandate home ownership. Or we can do it for cars or cellphone or computers...those are all important.

    But, the catch is – we can't do it for homes AND cars AND cellphones AND computers. We'll all be paying 100% of income to make it happen. But at least that solves the obesity problem.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • LogicInStyle

      The supply of doctors who say they are going to stop practicing is not really an issue. Every single year there are many people who are rejected from medical school and from residency matching needed to begin a career. The real problem of doctor supply has to do with mostly self imposed restrictions on the number of people who can enter the industry. There is not enough availability in medical school programs and the faulty process of matching otherwise qualified individuals into residencies. All of this is despite the fact that there has been a growing shortage of doctors going on for decades.

      The number one problem regarding affordable health care is the insurance industry. Insurance is NEVER an efficient means to finance anything that is going to be used on any kind of regular basis. The insurance company will always need to collect the cost from you, plus more in order to make a profit. Instead of requiring people to buy insurance, we'd be better off abolishing health insurance altogether. That way, costs would have to adjust to the market's ability to pay. In the meantime, get rid of Medicare and used the funding to create a new government subsidy program for health insurance similar to income based rent tax credits. The key would be to provide a sliding scale to subsidize low income persons based on their otherwise expendable income, up to a reasonable income level instead of the kinds of restrictive levels that are commonly used nowadays for full payout subsidy programs.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.