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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. QS

    The preacher character in "Don't be a menace" is probably the best depiction I can think of to describe these mega-church pastors:

    And that's what God expects from His sheep, here at the Greater Ebenezer New Revival Tree of Life Insti.tutional Double Rock on the Side of the Road to Jericho Missionary Baptist Church of Zion! And I said Mount Cavalry! Huh! Y'all gonna help me!

    Like those of you who realize that, that the Lord wants you to give generously into His church! Amen!

    Don't ask no questions! Don't ask how come! Or, or, or why come the pastor have to have him a nice house, humph!

    Or, or why come the pastor got to have a nice car, Humph!

    Don't ask no questions! Don't ask! I said don't ask! I said don't aaaaaaask no questions!

    Just give the money!

    November 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  2. practicallady

    Let's get something straight. ObamaCare is not just for the poor or working poor, I am 60 years old, and have been a professional (well paid) for 40 years. I recently got lad off, and have been unable to find a full time job, so have started freelancing to help pay my $600+/month COBRA bill. My 67-year-old husband works full-time, but in a social services job, so not a lot of income. He is on Medicare, and his employer will not cover me. I had breast cancer 5 years ago, so private insurance will cost me $1,200/month. I can't wait to sign up for my state's health care exchange. And I am a Christian (not that it has anything to do with practical matters.).

    November 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • QS

      Lucky for you you live in a state that is willing to help its citizens in this regard!

      November 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  3. Jim Weix

    So what would Jesus do?
    Would Jesus spend money on bombs, bailouts for banks, auto manufactures and Wall Street, yet let people suffer and die for lack of insurance and/or money? Would Jesus be a conservative Republican?
    I think the answer is "No", but I bet He is creating a special place in Hell for those that answer "Yes".

    November 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • jlacke

      Jesus wouldn't tell you to get the government to steal from others so you could pretend you are doing charitable acts.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
      • QS

        So committing charitable acts should only be done for recognition from your "god" so you have a better chance of getting to heaven?

        It has to be done in person so that "god" knows for sure you specifically were being charitable?

        The idea that religious people have that only churches or religion can adequately care for the poor is childish and relies on nothing but belief rather than fact and reality.

        November 8, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
      • Jim Weix

        Social security, food stamps, and Obamacare is stealing, but giving it to or bailing out the rich is not? Here in Florida, the biggest welfare recipient is the Sugar Industry.

        November 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  4. Sevansons

    ~Many of those pastors & people who won't speak out on behalf of the poor live in Millionaire Mansions here on Earth...They have their reward...But on Judgment Day??? I feel sorry for them really, to have access to a portion of light yet are so blind, and their hearts filled with such darkness & corruption...

    November 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Them good old boys and gals know there is no after life, thus they are making hay while the sun still shines for them. Greed.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  5. smirking

    If you're concerned about alienating your "fans" then you're really not a pastor, but a performer.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  6. Jo

    What John Blake and CNN don't understand is that these Mega-churches believe in divine healing. That is their idea of "health care"

    November 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Brett

      What John Blake and CNN doesn't realize is that churches are already doing quite a bit to help the poor and technically this is a government issue that could jeopardize their tax exempt status.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  7. scott

    Very nice smear article. Perfectly one sided.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • wizardwerdna

      Are you arguing that its one-sided, or that its false? Is it possible that its one-sided, and truthful?

      November 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • practicallady

      And what is your point?

      November 8, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  8. My Bible Says

    @Freeman

    You are going to pay for Obama care.

    Taxes
    More taxes.

    Your paycheck.

    Period!

    November 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Jim Weix

      Your tax money was already spent in Middle East conflicts and to bail out Wall Street.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • wizardwerdna

      But you have no evidence for that proposition, and all evidence is to the contrary. The CBO scored it up differently than you did, and concluded that the cost to the Federal government would be nominal, nil or negative.

      Stop making it up as you go along.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  9. Keeth

    I wish I'd sold tickets...here it is...big government believers on hands and knees crawling...in fact begging the church for a kind word about their precious debacle of obamacare…their arrogance has doomed them…when tea partiers reminded them how government does everything poorly…they wouldn’t listen…and must now…with hat in hand… grovel on the chapel stoop …pleading for any kind word for their pathetic and dying dream

    November 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • wizardwerdna

      No, Keith, we aren't begging for hypocrites to admit the truth about the teachings of the Sermon of the Mount. We really don't care, or expect them to do so. A pastor concerned about his flock would definitely wonder why their families must go to the poor house just because they got sick. That is our point. Its not the debacle of Obamacare, as you call it, its the pathetic incapacity of the Churches to tend to the sick among them. Whether its because they can't or won't, its about the fact that they defend that status quo ante.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
      • Keeth

        Wizard, how is that your business?

        November 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  10. BurnNotice

    Why are we not surprised?

    Hypocrites hiding behind their pulpits, cashing their checks, paying no taxes.

    Screw every last one of them.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Greg

      The pulpits do not make policy, nor do they make health care. The issue lies with government, both state and federal, both liberal and conservative. This is not an issue for the churches! If people have a problem with their government policies, they should take it up with them... if they really don't like their government, they should study on how the Washingtons, Franklins and Rosevelts founded this one.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
      • Al Russell

        Are you honestly trying to say that Churches should stay out of politics? Because, if they'd be consistent about that it'd be terrific. Unfortunately, this seems to be yet another instance where the rules are fluid based upon personal ideology, not theology. When we are talking about public policy set by the government dictating that all companies, not strictly serving a religious purpose, must cover birth control the churches and pastors are MORE than happy to get involved with politics. When we are taking about evolution in schools or school prayers, the churches and pastors scream to be included in the debate. There's really no mystery here. Anyone ducking this conversation by claiming that religious figures shouldn't be getting involved in policy is flat out lying. Of course these guys get involved in politics! Just right now it isn't personally convenient for them to preach the word of God, but of self serving men.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Padric2

      A beautiful sentiment. Well put.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  11. Mr. Smith

    Finally someone in CNN has decided to do a real story on Obamacare. A lot better than the "shocking" Obamacare signup numbers from North Dakoda that moron who is standing in for Wolf Blitzer today in the Situation Room was talking about. How many people live in North Dakoda anyway? 50 people? CNN still seems incapable of stopping the digging in the ratings hole they have found themselves since last week as they break more "shocking" Obamacare stories. What bunch of morons at CNN.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Greg

      It may be 50, but unlike liberal states, they are all employed, and the are a net exporter... big time!

      November 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
      • wizardwerdna

        No, Greg, they are not. In fact, the Dakotas are 43rd and 44th among the 50 states in terms of contributions to the Federal Government versus revenues received therefrom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_taxation_and_spending_by_state

        They are, what is the term that you like to use, among the worst of the takers.

        November 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
      • Al Russell

        Seriously??? With the biggest welfare states being predominantly red you've got a pair to make that statement.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  12. chuck

    I see CNN has censored my advice.

    I recommend long term incarceration and the latest drug therapy interventions.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • chuck

      Hang in there people. God will never abandon you, like many of your parents and caretakers did.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Madtown

      Incarceration is excellent advice. Thanks for your contribution here, your work is done.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  13. Katy

    Why....and I ask why.... are you bringing up the "Bible Belt" with insurance?
    Why...are you so concerned with the Christians?
    Why is it you believe Christianity is your scapegoat for what is happening with Obamacare?
    Why are you focused on the South?
    Why are you not bringing up other religions?
    What does religion have to do with a health system that has many errors in it?
    What does religion have to do with you?
    Who are you?

    November 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Hi> I thought it was ironic that the most overtly Christian region of the country is the one most hostile to poor people getting basic health insurance – and hardly any of the spiritual leaders in this community are saying anything.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
      • Keeth

        Wow Blake, that's a lot of 'tolerance' huh?

        November 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
      • scott

        Just who says they are against the poor getting health care? Not one single pastor has stated "We are against the poor having health care. What a load of steer droppings. You are automatically saying "no answer" means they are against poor people getting health care. Maybe they are against Obamacare itself with is already breaking promises in writing and on video that Obama himself made the American public. Nice try, but next time, try writing an honest article – assuming you still can.

        November 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          They have opinions on a woman having a abortion, yet glue their lips together on something as important as this?

          November 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
      • Greg

        It's just a side affect of not giving handouts for free. Detroit on the other hand...

        November 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
      • Read the Bible...

        Since you are intelligent individuals, yes, Christians are called to help out the poor. But look up what it actually says in the Bible The question for you is HOW does God outline you should provide for them? Is it through ordering OTHER people, using OTHER people's money/resources, with NO accountability or prudent stewardship of the funds/resources through the Government? Or, are you called to use YOUR OWN resources, time, and talents wisely out of your own heart to provide for those in need?

        November 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • FactChecker

      Each church is 100% responsible for what it advocates. That is all this article is talking about. Ignoring the plight of the poor may be okay for you, but it should not be okay for a church.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Cinematt

      Because the "Christians" suck billions out of the tax system and never lift a finger to help anyone but themselves, and then complain when the government has to step in. I'll bet, Katy, that you can't name a single church (and especially not a mega church) that's ever stepped up to pay anyone's hospital bill. The most they'll do is bring your family a casserole when you die and call that "giving."

      November 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  14. Brett

    The author writes "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".
    How do you not make enough money to qualify for the subsidy? Isn’t the problem typically that someone makes too much money to qualify for the subsidy? It just goes to show how poorly this law is written. Nice try by the author, the government screws up health insurance so let’s blame it on the Christians.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • tam

      The only way to get a subsidy for health care is if you are between 100% and 400% of the FEDERAL poverty limit. If you are below the 100% figure, yet above your STATE medicare limit, you get no subsidy to buy insurance and the full cost is yours. Since Idaho now has the most minimum wage jobs, we will also have thousands of people who fall into this gap. The Federal government thought that States would expand medicare for those below 100% of poverty. Didn't happen and there is no way these people can pay full premiums for the healthcare plans offered.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
      • Brett

        Then it was not well planned and well thought out law – why didn't the federal government fully or heavily subsidize those folks instead of expecting the states to fund it. Many states do not have the money and unlike the federal government can not print more or run massive deficits

        November 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  15. bob

    States that do not set up exchanges because they can't afford to pick up all the cost once the gov leaves are set up by the gov so not much difference than other states.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • FactChecker

      The federal government will pay 93% of the cost of medicaid expansion over the years 2014-2022. Texas is turning down tens of billions of dollars because of their political ideology.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  16. Scott Petersen

    I also think it's very strange that many don't have health insurance in the US. I lived in France and think that their system is OK and don't have an ax to grind against government involvement with health care. However, Obama care is not the answer; it's already causing a lot of people to lose their health coverage, and prices are going up. Obama care is ultimately not going to help the poor.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  17. freeman

    And who is going to pay for Obamacare?

    November 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Lance

      It pays for itself.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
      • Eyego

        Tell me exactly how it pays for itself? I have only heard that line from Prez Obama and his lackeys. But again, they also said things like, "If you like the insurance you currently have, you can keep it" and "we have to pass the bill for you to know what's in it"...

        November 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
        • FactChecker

          The savings in reduced emergency room use for routine health care is a big factor in the "pay for itself". The Congressional Budget Office has spelled it all out. It saves money.

          November 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  18. bob

    The poor already get medical care, just not in an efficient way (ER). Unfortunately nothing changes with obamacare because there aren't more docs and doc offices are already full.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Lance

      I've snuck out of a couple of ER treatments without paying.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Hey BOOB.. Do you know that YOU pay the hospital bill for the uninsured. The money comes out YOUR pocket.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  19. Oofy Prosser

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

    Sorry, but that should be “Pastors ALWAYS have to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

    November 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  20. Living n Dying in Texas

    I live in Texas so basically what this article is saying that after all that fighting, voting ,supreme court ruling and a 2 week government shutdown that cost billions of dollars to the economy .............the sates have the right to refuse to obey the LAW!!
    I've already applied to Medicaid and have been denied because I make to much (580 dlls a month) 20 dlls more than I have to make to qualify for medicaid. I have been sick for a while unable to work paying my own doctor bills and medication for 2 yrs. Cant afford lab tests I should be doing in order to get the right amount of medication to get better and GO to work! I had been waiting for obamacare with great hope and now you're telling me that the reason I didn't qualify is because the governor of the state of Texas Rick Perry repelled Obamacare! He decided for me just like that!!! I can live with out it! and die with out it as far as he is concerned! Well damn YOU to hell Rick Perry! How do you people sleep at night? Oh I know God forgives every thing if you repent right! I certainly hope not in your case! I'm writing this comment with tears in my eyes I've just now realized how hopeless my case really is!! Oh well I already owe over 11,000 dlls for emergency care and a 3 day stay at the hospital when I first fell ill and where they ran the test that finally diagnosed what was wrong with me. That was 2 years ago. I've not been back since I'm better than when I went to the hospital 2 yrs ago but still can't walk around the park can't even stand for the time it takes someone to wash a sink full of dishes but once again thank you Governor Rick Perry for all your support!!

    November 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • THE GREAT ONE

      Hey dip sh1

      ALOT OF STATES DISOBEY FEDERAL AW ALL THE TIME. YOU ARE JUST A CHERRY PICKING P.O.S. LETS TALK ABOUT WASHINGTON, COLORADO, AND THE PLETHORA OF STATES WITH MARIJUANA LAWS SUPERSEDING FEDERAL LAW. LIKE I SAID YOURE A CHERRY PICKER.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
      • Living n Dying in Texas

        I don't know what you mean by cherry picking? I've never picked a cherry in my life. I wrote a comment about this particular article as it concerns to MY situation!! I'm sorry it has upset you sooo much and apparently for all the wrong reasons. There are a lot of other things the Governor does that I don't agree with but I left them out of my comment since they didn't apply to this article Oh Great One (over inflated sense of self)! I've been called a lot of things in this life but never Dip Sh1 right back at you! Thank you for your compassion and have a great day!!!

        November 8, 2013 at 9:14 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.