General Convention predictions

Okay, we've compiled our wish lists for General Convention. Now tell us what you think will happen to key legislation.

Two guess from me: the resolution to permit Communion before Baptism or without Baptism, or regardless of Baptism will not be approved. The degree of alarm over this resolution has always seem disproportionate to the likelihood of its approval. But I have enjoyed the conversation.

Resolutions of the "boycott, divestment, sanctions" sort aimed at Israel will not pass. The Presiding Bishop opposes them. Bishop Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East opposes them. I don't believe supporters of these resolutions can overcome their opposition.

I am less confident about this prediction, but I believe we will do something that slows down the implementation of the denominational health plan. I am not well versed in the ins and outs of this issue, so I can't offer a helpful explanation on why the plan hasn't lived up to its billing. (Anybody care to help?) But it is clearly causing problems, and I think the church will respond in some way.

Comments (10)

I am prepared to predict that we will see nothing nimble or adaptive in the running of this GC.

Quite possibly, Mike. Although I thought the use of Committee of the Whole in the House of Deputies in 2009 was relatively nimble.

Jim, I wrote a detailed blog post about the DHP here, which you can read to understand some of the issues in health insurance: http://goodandjoyfulthing.blogspot.com/2012/05/health-insurance-and-justice-dhp.html. I hope to write a follow-up post in the next few days. In general, though, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, it's not really fair to say the DHP "hasn't lived up to its billing" when the DHP hasn't really even gone into effect yet. It is not mandatory until Jan. 2013. The employer mandate is essential to the economics of health insurance. This is because absent a mandate, younger, healthier, cheaper employees or groups will get coverage elsewhere, leaving only older, sicker, more expensive employees and groups to be covered by the DHP. This means that the cost of CPG insurance (which now covers an older, mostly clergy group) will be more expensive than other alternatives until the younger, healthier employees are added. We are really not going to be able to judge the effectiveness of the DHP until we have seen the effects of the coverage mandate.

The other issue some people have been concerned about is geographic differences in premium costs. These differences arise at least partly because of differences in underlying health care costs in different geographic regions. I asked CPG about this issue, and they said they have already narrowed the pricing differences between regions, and are looking at the possibility of narrowing them further. However, we have to keep in mind that we CAN average out costs across the country, but this means that some regions' health care costs will increase substantially, potentially pricing CPG out of the market in those areas.

Thanks, Susan. I will read your blog. Perhaps instead of "hasn't lived up to its billing" I should have said "has provoked widespread unease," and resolutions calling for a delay in its implementation.

And, of course, the website has now archived Susan's comments ... they can be seen at: http://goodandjoyfulthing.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html

Michael Hartney
Watkins Glen, New York

I share your assessment that "open communion" will not pass. But I wonder if it won't be referred for some kind of study. (Does Convention ever do that?) That's what happened in Connecticut: couldn't get folks to agree at diocesan convention so give it to a committee to study.

I'm not sure that actually resolves the issue, however, so much as it just postpones the fight. That might be OK.

-Jesse

@Jim

Yes it was relatively nimble and I hope we can suspend the rules and do more of it this time. But most of the chatter is in the usual channels.

I find it interesting that the "open communion" issue always causes such a stir. It is safe to assume that there are people that come into an Episcopal Church more often than not to participate in worship - including Communion - without being baptized.

I understand the concern of passing a resolution on it as doing so would minimize the two sacraments directly from Christ's ministry, but I also think we have to recognize that Communion is already relatively open.

Hunter Ruffin

I hope you're right, Jim, about the BDS resolutions. The best way toward a peaceful final-status agreement is positive investment in Palestinian businesses, not retribution against Israel. The Palestinian people have certainly been victims of oppression and have suffered much. Israelis have suffered too. There are also records of injustice on both sides. But there are good intentions on both sides as well, and a longing for peace. I hope GC'12 will encourage TEC to pursue investment, not retribution.

The opinion in the Diocese of Ohio, one of the proposers of a DHP resolution, is that the Denominational Health Plan has not lived up to its billing, because it has not. It is not a denominational plan, but a denominational wide mandate creating in a monopoly where each diocese is still expected to self-fund its own claims and premiums are based upon the census data for that particular diocese: average age, male-female ratio, claims history, local medical costs, numbers of participants, etc. There is no spreading of costs or participation in a larger pool because everything continues to be diocese dependent. Contrary to what was said leading up to the 76th General Convention, the DHP is not a Denominational Health Plan, but a Diocese-by-Diocese Health Plan.

The claim that we don't yet know the full benefit of this plan because the mandate has not taken effect is not accurate. I believe the statistic is that over 90% of the dioceses are in the Medical Trust and therefore most of any potential savings have already been realized in setting the 2012 premiums.

Alan James

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