28 Jan 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr.
Special to the Tri-State Defender
(Charles E. Blake Sr. is Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ)
President Obama’s historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed by Congress last year, has greatly benefited many in the United States, and in particular those among us who have not previously had health insurance. As the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, one of the oldest and largest Holiness-Pentecostal denominations in the world, with an estimated membership of six million people in fifty-seven nations across the globe, I write in support of the law and urge Congress not to repeal the law or pass any amendments that will weaken it.
I am joined in this position by our ruling council, our bishops and their Chairman. As I have argued before, based on our understanding of the Holy Scriptures it is not only our mandate to encourage men and women to come into right relationship with their Creator, but also to proclaim and advocate justice and compassion throughout all creation.
“Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”
Therefore we petition Congress today, speaking on behalf of millions of Americans who have benefited from the health care law.
There are several historic provisions that we seek to preserve: the current restriction on insurance companies’ ability to deny coverage to children on the basis of pre-existing health conditions, the extension of coverage to children under 26 through their parents’ health insurance plans, the mandate for every American to have health insurance by 2014, and the provision of subsidies for the needy to cover health insurance are among the most important.
In this, the richest country in the world, 32 million Americans were without health insurance coverage prior to the passage of this law. Today. the elderly benefit, as the law will close the “donut hole” in prescription drug benefits through Medicare by 2020. And the poor, who are of particular importance to us as Christians, benefit immediately from the expansion of Medicaid coverage to those within 133 percent of the poverty level and ultimately from the expansion of coverage to childless adults by 2014. Because of this law many will be spared untold hardship and unnecessary suffering due to ill health and death.
It is of particular importance to us as Christians that the law does not require any health care plan to offer coverage for abortion, and requires that taxpayer funds not be used for fees related to the provision of abortions.
As Christians it is also critical for us to urge fiscal responsibility among our national leaders. For this reason we support the health care law as currently enacted which will reduce the national deficit by $143 billion over the first 10 years.
We urge the members of Congress, and in particular the leadership, to resist the temptation to make this vitally important piece of legislation, which has such important benefits for needy Americans, the subject of divisive, partisan attacks. Finally, we call upon all Americans of faith and on all Americans of good will to stand with the President in support of this historic legislation.