EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article from GuideStone Financial Resources sets forth the Southern Baptist entity's support for the Church Health Plan Act of 2013 as a corrective measure for disadvantages church health plans face under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, enacted in 2010.
DALLAS (BP) -- For 95 years, GuideStone has provided financial and health benefits to pastors, ministers and employees of church and church-related organizations such as universities, seminaries, hospitals and other ministry-focused organizations. When added up across all denominations, more than 1 million pastors and others serving those organizations receive health care coverage through church health plans like those made available by GuideStone.
Those pastors, ministers and employees, as well as their families, were disregarded and put at a disadvantage when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010. Beginning in 2014, premium tax credits will be made available to eligible individuals who purchase their health coverage from commercial health care exchanges but those credits will not be available to pastors and others who get their health care coverage from church health plans.
The Church Health Plan Act, S.B. 1164, introduced in the Senate, will provide fairness for church health plans that cover ministers and others serving churches and ministry organizations. GuideStone strongly supports the efforts of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Mark Pryor, D.-Ark., and Sen. Christopher Coons, D.-Del., and urges both Democratic and Republican senators alike to ensure its swift passage.
Recognizing the economic realities facing Washington, the bill does not add to the cost of health care reform's overall tab. It simply ensures that a benefit promised to millions of Americans is available to pastors and other church staff members. GuideStone believes pastors should not have to choose between tax credits available to other Americans and proven health care plans designed with the unique needs of ministers and other church employees in mind.
GuideStone is encouraging pastors and other concerned individuals to contact their senators and urge them to join as co-sponsors and work together for the sake of pastors and others in ministry.
The Church Health Plan Act enables pastors and others who receive their coverage through church health plans to access the same premium tax credits provided to participants in secular health plans.
"For many months GuideStone has been advocating on multiple avenues related to health care reform, and we continue to do so," said O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone. "Now, Congress stands poised to provide fair treatment for church health care plans. If Congress fails to act, they will be disadvantaging church plans as compared to commercial, secular plans."
Church health plans have a robust legacy of providing health care benefits to pastors and others employed by ministry organizations. Many of these health plans date back well over a century. Church health plans offer many unique features, among them portability, which allows ministers to take their coverage with them as they move to different places of service. Read More