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. Skarphace

    When we get to the point where churches are paying for health insurance for those who cannot afford health insurance on their own, then Christians will have the right to say, "Leave the care of the poor to us." Until then, Christians have no right to say that our government should not enact policies to help the poor, the sick, the disabled, our veterans, and the elderly.

    November 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • John

      So, give the money to the government and striping the clothes and food from local poor people we can see with our eyes is the answer?

      You are mentally ill and so evil you think you are offering something king.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
      • John

        You have no right to take, that which is given freely with a good heart

        November 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • Skarphace

        We do not live in a Theocracy. Therefore, it is our government's job to make sure that our citizens are cared for.

        Ironically, if we did live in a Theocracy, then the "church" and the "government" would be one and the same and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

        November 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  2. thrushjz

    Conservative Christians (the ones these liberal/progressive pastors and church goers deride) give a WHOPPING 30-50% MORE of their OWN income to charities and non profits than do there liberal/progressive church attending hypocritical counterparts...here's an article from NYT proving it http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21kristof.html?_r=0

    November 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      How is that relevant to any discussion here?

      November 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • CharlesP

      They give a lot more to their churches, but it's questionable whether those churches are doing any more charity than liberal ones. Million dollar parsonages and Bentleys for the pastor's car aren't things that one would typically see liberal churches paying for.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • emskadittle

      They give almost all of that money to the church, I thought i heard yall saying that the churches could handle helping the poor?

      November 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • John

        You are lying. You do not know where all those millions of xtians send their money. Maybe some give to churches, maybe they give to no one. Maybe the feed the poor, cloth the poor, ect.

        Food and clothing is preventative health care.

        November 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
        • Skarphace

          Food and clothing is most definitely not preventive health care. Preventive health care means visiting your doctor in order to find medical conditions that show no side effects until the condition has become an emergency.

          November 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • chubby rain

      But conservatives are ignoring the obvious. Something to notice is in the mention of "ti-hing... to the church." All the survey did was take IRS data "showing the value of charitable deductions claimed by Americans taxpayers." What the IRS may mean by charitable, and what most people think of as charitable, may not be the same thing.

      For instance, a local fundamentalist church may spend the bulk of its resources degrading and attacking other faiths, insulting g-y people and leading crusades to strip people of their civil liberties. They may never feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or comfort the afflicted. Yet in IRS terms they are a charity no matter how uncharitable they may be.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • basedonfact

      No they do not. They claim 30-50% more on their taxes which is not the same thing. It only proves that they wont give unless they get something in return (tax breaks). Real Christians give from their hearts and don't advertise it.

      November 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  3. Betty

    Nobody.....nobody wants to get in the line of fire from the I.r.s. ......you do that when you come into the light of this administration. That is why they are silent!

    November 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • CharlesP

      The only people who have anything to fear from the IRS are tax-evaders, in my experience.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Innocent people have nothing to hide, Betty.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  4. Erica M.

    I am glad to see that there are people out here blogging and shedding light to "major" issues that are seemingly being overlooked in regards to the Affordable Healthcare Act. Lately focus has been solely on the issues with the healthcare.gov website rather than emphasis being placed on the policy details. I think I speak for all citizens when I say that, there are a lot of gray areas that are not being addressed and explained.

    This is my first time hearing about a "gap in the policy" I did not know that citizens who don't meet a certain criteria in states that have opted out of the Obamacare will be of many who remain uninsured. I will do further research on this present issue to verify the validity.

    November 9, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Venn

      Always a good idea to research both sides of an issue before drawing conclusions.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Skarphace

      In your research, you should also investigate how many of the states that have denied the Medicare expansion are "red" states. Once you do, you will be able to come to the conclusion that these are the same states that want so desperately for the ACA to fail. This is why they have done what they have. The politicians in these states are willing to let a large population of their states suffer in order to further their own political agendas.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • dragon

      Jesus was the Perfect Socialist who shouldn't be emulated. Modern day socialists forcibly redistributes wealth; Jesus didn't have to do that – He performed miracles.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  5. Name*tadd price

    Thou shalt steal from the middle class and give to the poor so the poor will vote for thee and thou shalt be able to steal until the great day of the lord is upon thee

    November 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • RickyPeters

      AS opposed to stealing from people enough to create a poor class who has nowhere else to turn to except your churches?

      November 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Skarphace

      One question: if we don't tax (or "steal from") those who have money, then who exactly should we tax?

      November 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • centeredpiece

      Not to mention "thou shalt use that stolen money to devise programs that create more and more dependency by more and more people (yea, even unto the care of their health) to thus ensure that thou wilt be enshrined in the halls of power forever more. Amen and amen." A nation of infantilized sycophants is the aim. Bringing the middle class and even the wealthy into that circle of dependents is the real aim. That's not how public benefit programs started – I do think LBJ was sickened by the extreme poverty that existed in the 1960s. But that's what it has morphed into. No longer is welfare a hand up out of poverty; by its design it keeps people just comfortable enough that they learn to prefer welfare to work, generation after generation. It's the new slavery.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • The Lottery Scam

      Thou shalt steal from the poor by starting government run lotteries. The poor won't realize that lotteries are a false hope and they'll continue to play. Thus generating more revenue for the government.

      November 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
  6. Secularbear

    Who cares what these medieval flat-earth con artists think or say? I sure don't.

    Also, churches for the sick? What church has a CT scanner and surgical equipment? Who gets a coronary blockage removed at a church? The pastors are liars and their followers are blind gullible fools.

    November 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • John

      Flat earth and medieval don't belong in your sentence. Learn to speak truthfully.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  7. josh

    Jesus came to love and offer eternal life with him. First command was to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind. Second, to love your neighbor as yourself. Does that mean I need to pay for other peoples health insurance? First we can't even pay for those who are covered. We are in growing dept. I'm a doctor and like hospitals around me, when serious health issues arise, the poor are getting care, admitted to the hospital and surgeries are performed. But, it does become a cost issue when health care cost so much $$$ that the poor can't get the highest level of care. If that is expected and demanded, we will bankrupt the Nation. Yes we need to show compassion, but to what moral and responsible cost? And if you say everything, then is this the best option to fix the problem?

    November 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I would say that the wealth of the US is enough to see to the needs of everyone in its boundaries. The distribution of that wealth is the problem.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • josh

        Now that's a communistic idea leading to socialism. If that's where you want to see our country going, then look at the nations that have gone that way.

        November 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
        • Skier

          Tax the churches.

          November 9, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Science Works

        The US should be able to when we spend one billion dollars for a new F – 35 fighter plane.

        November 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      So you are suggesting that while we have the ability to make 99% of the people in our country healthy and strong, we should refrain from achieving that objective? On what grounds?

      November 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • josh

        Yes, because you will bankrupt our country with current health care costs and economic collapse!

        To skier: become a member of a church and you'll see where money is donated. And a balanced government is important including national security. We will always argue how that should be balanced.

        November 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  8. Deryl

    There's nothing Christian about delegating charitable work to the government.

    November 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Governments should be guarantors of social welfare and agents of social change. Why would a Christian not want to participate in that?

      November 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • Deryl

        Because governments are the greatest centers of power and corruption and anything but efficient.

        November 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Merle McClung

      But the good Christians can't handle it, that's why we are where we are today.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  9. Skarphace

    "Wages says the Bible teaches that the care of orphans, widows and the sick are given to the church, not to the government."

    Then why hasn't this happened? Why hasn't the churches stepped in and taken care of these people?

    The fact is that the churches have failed to take care of the poor and this is why the government must step in. To say, "Well, it is the churches job to take care of the poor but if the church does not do it then they must continue to suffer" is unhumanitarian.

    November 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  10. Shirley

    There is not coverage gap, but anyone against everyone having coverage and not wanting to help with those who can't afford the very best would say so. Give details and quit spinning. How stupid do you think we are. Any new program needs modification as the it is implemented. It is amazing what some people will spin to have a job. If you don't believe me just take a look at Congress in total!!!

    November 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  11. Frank Mix

    Why does the headline say "Obama: I am Sorry"? That is taken totally out of context. The President signed a law intending Medicare expansion for all, the Supreme Court invented a loophole, and many Republican governors decided to deny their citizens medical insurance that would be 100% paid for by the federal government (going to 90% paid for by 2020).

    The article is fine; the headline from CNN misleads.

    November 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Cindy

      What you and Shirley seem to be missing is what doctors have to say about this program and how they will respond. There was a shortage of doctors in this country before this ACA program. Now you are talking about adding 30 million new people to coverage while most doctors are looking for ways around this problem either by retiring from practice or letting their individual practices go..

      Many doctors are giving up their practices and just working for hospitals or clinics as it is just cost prohibitive to keep open their private practices. Many others are doing away with accepting Medicaid and Medicare patients and don't want the Obamacare people either because they get paid a fraction for their services. You can argue that the AMA endourses Obamacare but the AMA only represents a tiny fraction (about 17,000 doctors) out of the almost 900,000 doctors in this country.

      What good are all this new insurance programs if our "already broke government" can't afford to pay for all these new enrollments or there are not near enough doctors????? How high wil this drive our already high taxes! This money has to come from somewhere.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • chubby rain

        "A 2011 article asserted that "somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% of practicing US doctors now belong to the AMA."[33] Membership total as of Dec 31, 2011 (including residents and students) was 217,490 of approximately 954,000 practicing physicians.[34]"

        The doctor shortage would have occurred anyway because A) many doctors are baby boomers and B) and aging population requires more care. Doctors are also moving to hospitals because of economies of scale (reduced overhead and malpractice insurance) and leverage with insurance companies (better reimbursement). Oh, and a lot of large health systems are making a ton of money right now and buying out small practices.

        November 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Cindy

          My stats are more recent on AMA enrollment and I have gotten my info from several sources actually, both of which are well placed surgeons here in NJ.

          For now though it is enough that you know my sister has an adopted son she got through the Division of Youth and Family Services. He has serious health issues including heart as his parents were both drug and alcohol addicted. She had a doctor for him for many years but already her doctor for her son is no longer accepting Medicaid and she is having real problems finding another doctor.

          I think we can all expect to hear more of such stories.

          November 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
      • lngtrmthnkr

        cindy,what you are saying is that this ACA is a job creater.The need for more Doctors will increase thus more high paying jobs to fill the needs of the new patients,And if money is the only incentive for someone wanting to be a healer, maybe he or she is in the wrong profession.

        November 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Dan

      Sorry, Frank. "... many Republican governors decided to deny their citizens medical insurance that would be 100% paid for by the federal government (going to 90% paid for by 2020)."

      These governors understand something about economics, unlike you. They understand that anything being paid for by the government means it is being paid by the taxpayers, who are the citizens they represent. The citizens they represent choose to NOT have their tax payments diverted to what is traditionally a charitable cause – helping the poor acquire medical attention. They ALREADY are donating funds to charitable organizations, and refuse to allow the federal government to further financially bleed them to death.

      If this Obamacare boondoggle continues, I want the portion of my taxes which are being diverted to it to be a tax credit on the following year's return.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        The poorest among us are also the most sick and prone to preventable disease and early death. Perhaps Obama care is designed to fix the failure that currently exists because charities are not addressing the problem. After all, if people were healthy and strong now (even the poor and undesirable) there'd be no need for such a health care program.

        November 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Paul

    What is John Blake's intent with this article? Is it simply to point out another group of people that Christians should be helping? Is it to cause divisiveness between liberal and conservative Christians? Is he DEMANDING that Christians help out these people?

    Yes, Jesus commanded us to help those who need help: the poor, the widows, the orphans, etc...
    Yes, there are people out there like Shelley “Myra” Mitchell who need help. But on the other hand, she does have a job and can feed and clothe her family.
    Then there are between 450-500 million people in the world that don't even have access to clean water. There are millions and millions of people that live on less than $2 a day. They struggle to provide food for their families. Aren't these people in greater need?
    Don't get me wrong – I'm not trying to diminish the needs of people like Shelley and I have no problem with Christians who want to help people like her. I have no problem with Christians who choose to help out those who need food and clean water.
    I can't give money to every person that asks for it. I can't give my time to every single person that asks for my help. I have a limited amount of time and money so I make the best use of it as I can. So don't try and guilt trip me because I don't help out those that you want me to help and I want guilt trip you for not helping the people that I think you should help. Each Christian should give their time and money to causes they care about. That's a start to this complex problem of people in need.

    November 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I thought the intent of the article was political, Paul. Many Christian congregations engaged in pretzel logic, reinterpreting their core beliefs to call a Mormon a Christian so that they could vote for him in support of their conservative values. Their conservative values continue to trump their Christian values on issues like healthcare for the poor. Politics contiues to win out over conscience in the likes of Osteen and Mr. Jakes.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  13. Keeth

    their leader, at the least committed fraud...but you'll forgive the lies...because love is blind to the truth
    you believe Americans are dying because they can't get healthcare...who told you that?
    the bill was approved in the middle of the night by a lame duck congress that never read it...it was sold by our President with a litany of blatant lies...if he were an insurance agent any and all of us would be suing for fraud.
    he couldn't get one Republican onboard...nor all the Democrats.
    for those fans of big government, obamacare has become a swirling, sucking eddy of despair...those tea partiers were right about everything...and that...more than the lies...more than the failure...is what has hurt your feelings the most...

    November 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Skarphace

      Keeth: "you believe Americans are dying because they can't get healthcare...who told you that?"

      Americans are dying because they can't get PREVENTIVE healthcare. Sure, Americans without healthcare can get care, but they have to wait until it is an emergency and by then it is often too late. Preventive care avoids these many of these emergencies.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  14. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    well, it is a personal decision – which states to deplore and which to pity. You can do both, of course. Here are the states the governors of which oppose medicaid expansion. They are ranked by households in poverty.

    Nebraska 10 9.5%
    Idaho 12 9.9%
    Alaska 13 10.0%
    Wisconsin 16 10.2%
    Wyoming 18 10.6%
    South Dakota 26 11.8%

    (United States 12.6%)

    Indiana 32 12.6%
    North Carolina 34 13.1%
    Georgia 37 14.4%
    South Carolina 41 15.0%
    Oklahoma 44 15.6%
    Texas 46 16.2%
    Alabama 47 16.7%
    Louisiana 49 18.3%
    Mississippi 50 20.1%

    November 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Cindy

      Hey Tom Tom:

      You'll also notice the population/industry densities of most those states and some of the others have experienced serious natural disasters to which they have yet to rebound from.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Tezas is my favourite. Energy capital of the world (by their lights), has a governor who actually considers himself a preacher, only 4 states have a higher poverty rate, and they produce the likes of Ted Cruz who, if you don't remember, wanted to threaten the nation's economic standing in the world to halt the ACA.

        November 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • Science Works

          And Texas took 2 major hits last month.

          The new abortion bill was declared unconsti-tional and Texas publishers said No to creationism in new text books for 2014

          November 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
        • Cindy

          I don't mean to play the devils advocate and believe the Republicans do need a good, swift kick............ but I really do believe both parties were equally guilty. The Dems refused to listen or even consider opposing view points (not how our government was designed to run), the government passed this bill back in 2010 which no one even knew what was in it because no one ever read it first.

          The Republicans have tried repeatedly to stop it as they saw this coming. I've followed this ACA thing quite closely for years and the Republicans had very valid concerns which are now only beginning to materialize. The Dems stood their ground and refused to negotiate. There are many good things in the ACA that need to be retained but over-all, the program is structured in a way that is going to have very serious consequences economically in very little time.

          We have been a laughing stock for years abroad, the partial government shutdown did not start that.

          November 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  15. Keeth

    it's come to this...anything to save their precious obamacare from the debacle …their arrogance has doomed them…when tea partiers reminded them how government does nothing well…they wouldn’t listen…and must now…hat in hand… grovel on the chapel stoop …pleading for any kind word for their pathetic dream now swirling in the toilet bowl of history

    November 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

    "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"

    In other words , they can afford to buy their own insurance

    November 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Did you read the article? They gave examples of people like Shelley Mitchell that quite clearly cannot afford health insurance.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Skarphace

      The fact that they don't make enough to qualify for the ACA subsidies refutes your argument.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • ngaimoko

      I have to assume from this that you make over $18,000 a year. I'd like you you to do the math for us - trim your income to 18 Gs and tell us what your budget looks like. Oh, and don't forget that surgery or that your kid's about to go to college.

      November 9, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  17. Mike

    Please! Most American Christian leaders and followers are not real Christians. Jesus the man and Jesus the deity did not preach against gay marriage or State's rights vs Federal rights. The main issue he took on was taking care of the poor and loving your fellow man. He would absolutely hate capitalism. Evangelical leaders only care about the money, and they practice Christian ideals less than Atheists do. American Christians are the biggest hypocrites, and they make up stuff as they go along

    November 9, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      No True Scotsman

      November 9, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • chubby rain

        I mean, if you define a "Christian" as someone who follows what Christ actually preached, I think that avoids the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

        November 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          If that was Christianity, Christians would need a book far smaller than the Bible, seeing as what Jesus said in the Bible only covers a couple of pages. Therein lies another problem, what is a Christian?

          November 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • chubby rain

          I agree, but I consider the No True Scotsman fallacy to go along the lines of:
          "Christians do not commit murder.
          Well, what about the Crusades, Holocaust, Spanish Inquisition...
          Those people weren't true Christians."

          Mike's conclusion is these Christian leaders are hypocrites based on the fact that they do not follow the same principles as Christ with the unspoken premise that Christians are supposed to follow the teachings of Christ. I would agree with him on this and I do not think that his argument is a fallacy.

          November 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Cindy

      I can speak from my own experience as we are down on our luck now and have been since my husband was injured in an accident on our farm. Since he was self-employed he is not eligible for disability or unemployment. We are living off my meager income but we are not on any kind of government assistance and trying desperately to hold our own against the odds but loosing the battle over time. We however refuse to put our misfortune on the shoulders of others.

      There are plenty of socialist countries for you to choose from if you do not like the incentive, determination and drive living in a capitalist country produces.

      God also wanted to see us prosper and to hold our own and continue to fight. Everyone needs a helping hand at times, no shame in that but I am older (but not old enough for Medicare) and I have never seen where enablement helps or strengthens people over the long term.

      PS, I am in Independent and believe both parties have gone to crap and are only truly worried about serving themselves.

      November 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Apart from the god stuff, everything you just said was both true and inspirational. If I were a Christian, I'd probably break out a 'God Bless America' right about now.

        November 9, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • Cindy

          Thanks, I was responding to Mike's comment above mine. I am a Christian but we do not put down others who choose to believe or live differently than we do. I was not put on this earth to judge anyone!!!!!

          November 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • John

      Mike, you are wrong. In one place he said whoever taught the law of Moses would be the greatest in heaven. "Man sleeping with another man is an abomination" and in another he told the leaders that God made them Male and Female from the beginning. In other words, that was his intention. You want to practice something outside the norm, which is an abomination to God. You have been givin the free will to do so, but lying about the bible is another issue.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  18. Wendy

    Cindy, like California?

    November 9, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Cindy


      November 9, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Cindy

      USE TO LOVE NY but that has become the east coast equivalent of California, just look at the taxes and unemployment!!!!!

      November 9, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  19. Lionly Lamb

    I am a God-fearing, Christian-loving humanoid... And you..?

    November 9, 2013 at 11:44 am |
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About this blog

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.