Health care act upheld; insurance exec, moved by faith, joins the fight

Update: The U. S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 decision. We will be posting links to the responses of religious organizations as we receive them.

(Actually, David Gibson is all over the religious angle. Follow his story at Religion News Service. So is Huffington Post.) Now back to our previous story on Wendell Potter, a former insurance executive whose faith led him to revise his views on health care, and to change his life.

Wendell Potter's "Road to Damascus" moment came at a free health clinic for the uninsured in rural Virginia:

Potter had driven to the Wise County Fairgrounds in Virginia in July 2007 after reading that a group called Remote Area Medical, which flew American doctors to remote Third World villages, was hosting a free outdoor clinic. Potter, a Cigna health care executive who ate from gold-rimmed silverware in corporate jets, says that morning was his “Road to Damascus” experience. “It looked like a refugee camp,” Potter says. “It just hit me like a bolt of lightning. What I was doing for a living was making it necessary for people to resort to getting care in animal stalls.” The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is a colossal legal and political issue. For Potter, though, the issue became a crisis of faith.

Read story here.

Comments (5)

What the Roberts majority opinion has done is unmask the fact that the mandate is a tax. Republicans were the originators of the idea of a health insurance mandate because of politics. But it's equivalent to collecting a tax, buying the taxpayer an insurance policy and giving it to them.

What Republicans running for office now will do (besides bashing the court) will be to say, see Obama is increasing your taxes and we voted against it.

The fact that the majority opinion that the mandate would have failed under the commerce clause, or the necessary and proper clause only reinforces the court's message that a mandate is a tax. It's a tax even if the mandate was permissible under the commerce clause or necessary and proper (as some but not all in the 5 member majority held).

So now suppose another piece of social welfare legislation. If it calls for a mandate it's a tax. If it doesn't it's calling for increased government spending. Republicans will use it as a club both because it increases government spending and because it must increase taxes either today or in the future.

To pass social legislation you're going to have to convince voters that its something they want to spend their tax dollars on.

Agreed. To paraphrase Virgil, the President would be wise to beware of Supreme Court justices bearing gifts.

The United States, the richest nation in history, ranks 34th in infant mortality rates.

As disciples of Christ, how do we respond?

Kevin McGrane

There is only a penalty/tax if you can afford health insurance but choose not to have it. For those of us with pre-existing health conditions it allows us to change jobs. I work in public health. All of my colleagues are thrilled that this passed muster with the Supreme Court. We'd like it to go further but we'll take what we can get and keep on fighting for better health care for all.

Kathy Kirkland

The Affordable Care Act was FAR from perfect (still can't believe we didn't get even a *piddly* Public Option! >:-/), but I'm deeply relieved it was upheld. It's a ground floor, upon which improvements can be built. If it were eliminated, it might be ANOTHER 40 years till another health care law was passed (with *thousands* of preventable deaths resulting from lack of health care).

JC Fisher

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space