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. Linus

    Medicaid expansion throws the burden back on the states after a few years. If you approach it from a fiscal viewpoint it's a lot like "the first one is free" from a dope dealer. When the states, who cannot print money or run a deficit, lose the federal funding they are faced with the political nightmare of cutting off recipients or raisng taxes. And Medicaid coverage could be nearly halved without harming the truly needy-a great deal of the cost is for nonmedical makework projects replacing what used to be family responsibilities.

    November 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  2. Tom

    They are all too busy screaming about gays and just can't take any time to worry about the poor.

    November 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  3. Joe Smith

    If you take out the passages in the Gospels in which Jesus preaches about ministering to the poor, you are not left with much. It was the basic central core of his message.

    A nation shall face judgment for how it treats the widow and the orphan.

    That which you do to the least you do unto me

    It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

    All those mega church pastors blithely ignore those lessons........but their judgment will come from a source greater than man.

    November 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Moonhill

      There are generations of folks on welfare who are neither widows or orphans. They exist because our government decided to reward the irresponsible behavior of illegitimacy. The more babies a woman has, the more welfare she collects. The Bible also says that whoever refuses to work should not eat. The Great Society has done more to impoverish people than anything our government has done. 75% of all black children are now born out of wedlock. Until we hold fathers responsible for the children they create, this will continue to happen.

      November 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
      • befreed

        Don't to forget to hold the mothers accountable as well.

        November 11, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Keep in mind Moon that republicans are AGAINST abortion and birth control. Positions that would add millions to the population. In other words "More people we can't take care of" If you want them to be born then you have to help them. You can't pick and choose who to help based on your likes and dislikes? Another solution to the problem is to "NOT VOTE REPUBLICAN"

        November 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  4. Melissa

    Because a bunch of states decided to be stupi d doesn't make this obamas fault. Yep, its horrible, but put the blame in the right place.

    November 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  5. s~

    states can't afford it. period.

    November 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • lionhart

      The government is paying for it.

      November 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • Dawn J

        No government isn't paying for it. The people are paying for it. Where do you think the government gets the money from? If by "the government" you mean the federal government, that's true initially. However, down the road, the states will take on the costs, and the states can't afford it.

        See, this is the problem when politicians, overly impressed with their own power, pass a law just for the sake of passing a law and saying, "Look what I did."

        They didn't actually solve the problem, which is the high cost of health care. If they had focused on the relatively small number of people who can't afford medical care and those who can't get coverage due to preexisting conditions, maybe they wouldn't be having all these problems.

        November 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Makikijoe

      That's strange. Canada and Great Britain can afford it.

      Gee, I wonder how they can .......... and we can't.

      November 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  6. Joe Smith

    Jesus ALWAYS advocated helping the poor. It was why he was controversial even in his own time. He said, what you do to the least you do unto me. So – when the tea party republicans refuse to allow the poor to get health care they would otherwise get, when they cut off food for the hungry, when they cut jobs of important federal state and local government civil servants.......they are going to have to answer fro their sins.

    November 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Makikijoe

      Amen, Joe

      November 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  7. Sharon Lowd

    I only want to speak about the issue of the minister's lack of response – whether or not I support the Affordable Care Act is irrelevant. What amazes me is the fact that these "ministers" have no problem droning on and on when they write another book or produce another CD or DVD. When it comes to something very important – SILENCE! Does anyone wonder why so many people still believe in God (a God) but refuse to attend church. I once stopped attending services at a church because when Christmas came around, instead of making bread baskets for the poor they chose to spend thousands on a dinner & celebration (in a hotel ballroom) where the members spent way too money buying new shoes & clothes to impress each other. There was not one single mention about helping those that could not afford toys for their kids, a Christmas tree or Christmas dinner – I was appalled. For those of you that wonder why I did not say something, I was not a member, I just attended services weekly. No one would have listened to me – this was an annual affair.

    November 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • bob

      they dont reply to this guy and its a scandal?

      colonel sanders didnt tell his secret recipe. SCANDAL!!!

      Ask Obama about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, etc, etc. those are scandals.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • Murray

        Yes, the non scandals used by the far right to muddy the waters. F&F was a Bush program. Solyndra types happen on every administration watch (check 43's record) and Embassy attacks happened 12 times on 43's watch with only 3 investigations. Why? Because the POTUS is someone who happens to have a D behind his name.

        You people need to focus your energy on building instead of destroying. Compromise instead of vitriolic hyperbole and obstruction.

        EVERY Republican POTUS has spent and ran up debts like madmen, and then attempted to cut the cards up when a Dem is in the WH. It's hypocritical and tawdry to heap blame on a sitting Prez when the pattern of spending while giving out massive tax cuts have been the GOP norm since 1980.

        Look it up.

        November 11, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • bob

          Wow. Incorrect across the board. I was citing a few recent incidents that by definition are scandals.
          “Yes, the non scandals used by the far right to muddy the waters.”
          Let’s take a look…
          “F&F was a Bush program.”

          November 11, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
        • bob

          “Solyndra types happen on every administration watch”.
          Really? `These things happen` somehow makes this a non-scandal? Try again…

          November 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
        • bob

          “You people need to focus your energy on building instead of destroying. Compromise instead of vitriolic hyperbole and obstruction.”
          Don’t lecture me on compromise. Obama himself flatly grandstanded the point that he would not compromise with congress regarding the `government shutdown`. Obama personnaly shut down the government and the ignorant followed him in his rants that “congress shut down the government”. The truth is (for anyone that will admit it) the republicans passed a bil that covered government. All of the government agencies/programs except obamacare would’ve been funded business as usual. But again Obama flatly denied to compromise. His ego was on the line. He was ramming obamacare through all the while knowing that he was lying about millions loosing coverage, etc.

          November 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • agilitypoos

      Last time I checked, churches were PROHIBITED from engaging in political activity (supporting or opposing anyone running for political office. If they engage in political activity, they may lose their exempt status. And they may engage in only very limited lobbying without losing their exempt status.
      So why is it all of a sudden the fault of the church, because they have not engaged in an activity that they are PROHIBITED from engaging in, that obamacare is failing? Hello?

      November 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  8. bob

    im enjoying watching CNN-ers `debate` religion. its like talking BBQ recipes at a PETA convention.

    November 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • johnCRoberts

      Yes! You are correct Sir!

      November 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  9. Clayt

    So some states saved people the trouble of NOT being able to logon to government health website?

    November 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  10. lamarkusrcook

    A preacher that does not speak out for the sheep is a preacher not following the Way of our Lord.

    Albert Coe writes, "the social issues of the present, then, must be taken as the call of God to our pupils, and as the sphere of the entire consecration to the will of God." These issues may fall under the following three headings; 1) Social Welfare, 2) Social Justice, and 3) A World Society. (Coe 1932, 58-59).

    November 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  11. buccakenji

    This is more of Obama's unintended consequences that jump up in everything he has done. His goal is not to benefit Americans but to be master over them. Anyone not privy to that lacks the brain power to comprehend anything meaningful.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • navaJohn

      yeah right. I think you have the wrong country in mind. Obama isn't Putin. He'll be out of office in a few years. Why do you people make everything so evil when there isn't any there?

      November 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • Clayt

        I know you liberals love to support Obama to the detriment of your own sanity. I know you conservatives love to bash him at every turn. Us independents see things for what they are. This program is a disaster, however I don't think he meant it to be. That doesn't change the fact that he will not change anything for fear of opening pandoras box by asking congress for help. We must stop this partisan divide that is gripping our country and do whats right for our country.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
        • navaJohn

          Actually I'm a moderate. Used to be moderate Republican until I got lonely over there.

          November 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @ bud…you're funny! Communist much?

      November 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • navaJohn

        I think it's funny how you people all call anyone who doesn't see things your narrow way, communist.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • Akira

          Well, that is the "slur du jour".

          November 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Makikijoe

      Right wing Obama hating zombie. Go away and let us intelligent adults have a real conversation.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  12. Anne

    Does anyone think the lead photo, although very captivating, accurately reflects the people this article is is reporting about?

    According to the author, "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."

    Please, just tell it like it is. Why incite vitriol by throwing religion into this issue? Why use a photo of someone who (probably) doesn't make too much money to qualify for Medicaid as the lead in to this story?

    More bait and switch tactics… just like Obamacare.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  13. Seriously???

    Since insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, why would anyone,much less the young and healthy, carry health insurance. If something bad were to happen, I would just get insurance after the fact. The penalty would undoubtedly be less than the coverage for a year. Sounds like a bad bet to me.....

    November 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • algol

      OK – you are in a serious car accident and you are critically injured. You tell the paramedics, "Stop off at the Blue Cross office on the way to the hospital, I have to sign up for health insurance." Right – sounds like a winner to me.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • Seriously???

        The accident would have to have been my fault....and if it were then my car insurance would cover my medical and property needs. There could be potential pit falls....but then again I can always go the illegal immigrant route and go to the ER and be given medical care without paying a dime. Still haven't fixed that problem yet have we....

        November 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          So you would go to ER to get medical care with out paying a dime? I'm glad to know you're a true dead beat bum. Let someone else pay for your stupidity.

          Suppose you're a victim of a crime without insurance and the ability to pay, you'll probably end up filing for bankruptcy. Good luck in the future with that hanging over your head. One more thing. Since the taxpayers pay the bill for the uninsured, eventually through taxes you'll pay your share of the ER visit.

          November 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • Makikijoe

        That is why the tax penalty for NOT having health insurance will gadually increase over time. It won't stay at just 95 dollars (or one percernt of your income) forever. That's just for the first year.

        It will be raised in future years. That's already been written into the ACA. And I'm glad it is.

        It will eventually be raised to the point where such "cheats" will come to the conclusion that EVADING their responsibility to have health insurance doesn't pay off.

        November 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
        • Seriously???

          False, there is a maximum penalty of 1% of the difference between your AGI and the minimum filing level (which is currently $10,000). Assuming you don't make more money than they deem allowable, the maximum fee will be $695. It wouldn't increase until you made more than $79,500 a year. Even so, the penalty would only cover around 2 months of premiums. You are still going to save money not doing it. With that being said, I should also bring up the fact that the tax levels are subject to change. How good do you feel about our government having that kind of control?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • Makikijoe

          I don't really worry about our government having that kind of control. I don't see the government as the "enemy" the way a lot of conservatives do. The govenment has helped so many millions of people in so many ways. Look at the GI bill. THAT was a government program too. But it helped millions of people get job training and a college education. As a result of that, the percentage of Americans who attended college increased greatly. And so many more were able to buy a house, for the first time. Home ownership increased vastly.

          It was a LACK of government control that contributed to the recent Great Recession". The government should have been watching those worthless "derivatives' that were being packaged and sold. I can only hope and pray that those things are being more closely watched now ........... though I undersatnd that they are still allowed to be sold.

          November 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • Seriously???

          Let us call a spade a spade, please. Just because there isn't a law that says that you can't do stupid things doesn't mean that it is the governments fault that the banks did dumb things. The blame rests solely on greedy people and corporations.

          November 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Makikijoe

      If we had "cradle to grave" health coverage, the way they do in Britain and Canada, then that would not even be an issue.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • Moonhill

        Yes, and our trip from the cradle to the grave will become much shorter.

        November 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
        • Clare

          Some countries have the most appalling health care! I know a woman in her late 60s who fell and broke her arm in two places. She received good care in the hospital, good follow-up care and made a full recovery. In contrast, I have friends who live abroad who worry about access to health care. If they have to go to the hospital they know they'll be waiting a while, and they hope they don't get sick. Another friend of mine lives in that same country and had issues with her doctor but couldn't just change to another doctor because of all the complicated rules.

          I should mention that the good healthcare the lady in her 60s received was with the New Zealand health care system. It's much like the British and Canada systems. Paid for by taxes, so if you get sick and cannot work, you don't get a massive bill to add stress at an already stressful time. Older people don't have to worry about leaving large medical bills behind for their spouses to pay off. Having a baby doesn't cost thousands – babies are needed if a country isn't going to collapse, so why punish people financially for having families?

          And my friends are still in the USA, where they have restrictions imposed on them by insurance companies about what doctors they can go to, the ones with insurance pay far more than I pay through taxes towards healthcare, cannot leave a toxic workplace because their healthcare is tied to their employer... All things that don't happen in New Zealand.

          The only 'death panels' are the ones being run by insurance companies.

          November 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  14. lol??

    "..................Along with partisan sniping, Washington, D.C. sure creates a lot of paper. And the Affordable Care Act is really adding to the pile. The nearly 11,000 pages of regulations for this one law alone would reach three feet high if you made the mistake of printing it.........................."

    Make all participants read it before getting serviced. They might die in the meantime and pwoblem is solved.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Makikijoe

      So what.

      I'm sure that the IRS has at least that amount of pages of rules and regs. Probably HUD does too. And many other government agencies too.

      What is REALLY important is whether the ACA can help millions of people who DO NOT have insurance, get access to it.

      And the answer is ..... yes !

      It could help even more people if the obstructionist conservatives would stop trying to block it's implemenation.

      Especially since their own alternatives to the problem of millions of uninsured is so inadrequate.

      Medical Savings Accounts. Oh Please ! Give me a break.

      How many people have a lot of surplus money left over at the end of the month to maintain such an account.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  15. Joe

    The goal is admirable, but the method is flawed. Due to human nature, socialism has never and will never work. Margeret Thatcher said it best; socialism is great until the other guy's money runs out.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Makikijoe

      And yet socialized medicine in Canada and Great Britain seems to be working out quite nicely, thank you.

      In those two countries NOBODY is without health insurance.

      British and Canadian voters don't seem to be worried that single payer will cause a socialist government takeover.

      The fact is, those countries are STILL capitalist countries.

      They are simply smarter for realizing that, in some things, having a highly cenralized and socialized system DOES work better than the decentralized, employer centered mess of a system that we Americans have.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Akira

      I don't understand how purchasing free market insurance is socialism.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  16. chris

    I I thought churches weren't supposed to push politics in return for 501c3 status, what happened to that. Another point they forget that Obama isn't a deity that can cure and feed at will through magic. Bankrupting a portion of the populace to give healthcare to the rest only makes everyone suffer, not just those that have no healthcare. Start taxing churches to pay for the difference and watch them all go silent..

    November 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Hi a church isn't "pushing politics" just because a pastor says something that's sympathetic to the working poor. A pastor would get in trouble if he or she is partisan – they endorse a particular candidate for example. But if a pastor speaks about helping the poor, that is not being partisan. if every time a pastor talked about the poor, that would risk their non-profit status, churches couldn't function.Pastors have talked about abortion and same-sex marriage without worrying about their non-profit status. Why not the same when talking about the working poor?

      November 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  17. Casey

    As a retired military officer I benefit from socialist healthcare and would like to see our nation go all in with government sponsored healthcare. It's time to think about a second revolution that would jettison those states or parts of states who are such hypocrites, sucking down federal monies but denying the poor a decent life. Let them go out on their own.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Howard

      If the law was as great as Obama made it out to be, there would be no coverage gaps.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • Makikijoe

        Oh, so then you favor a single payer system with universal coverage for everyone. Is that it ?

        Well, ..........now you're talking.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
      • dylan

        The answer to your question is in the article. This country is a Union of States that all wish for some level of sovereignty. Therefore, we have States' rights. Our country is much more like the EU than most people realise. Because of that, States that maintain a majority of anti-Obama legislators, even when Obama is trying to compromise by using a Republican Health Care Bill (which is what the ACA is), can opt out. The Republican ACA is not perfect, but it is a lot better than what we had. These coverage gaps are because of anti-Obama, State legislators who have made the decision to opt out of the federal program as the article said. If you had read the article carefully, you would know that the expansion of Medicaid is the part of the ACA that eliminated the coverage gaps that this article is referring to.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Cartman

      I also agree with a socialized health care system for all citizens, including all elected officials. The problem is that the majority of the health care system we currently have is privately owned. The government can't just go in and take over doctor's practices and hospitals, etc, these are all owned by someone.
      The government would need to buy these owners out. I doubt they have the money to do that.

      November 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  18. navaJohn

    When states refuse to set up their own marketplaces then turn around and say ACA isn't working I have to laugh. Except I feel sorry for those people in these states that really could use better choices and costs if they had. Shame on their representatives.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • bob

      chief, ACA not working has NOTHING to do with a few state holdouts.
      please look at the enrolled numbers per state and address those.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
      • navaJohn

        Time and time again I hear from people in states that haven't set up exchanges that they have little choices and the costs are higher. THAT'S what I was addressing.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • Rob

          Time and time again huh? So in the states where there are exchanges and the 10 or 20 people that have bought into it... um the other hundreds of thousands of people are not calling you complaining?
          Well hell, obama needs to rope those states in. Apparently that's where the "masses that want this" are hiding out. I thought they were playing poker with elvis and sasquatch.

          November 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
        • Akira

          10 or 20 on the State run exchanges? What states?

          November 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  19. mark kness

    Ignorance wins the day....yay!!!!!

    November 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
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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.