The Episcopal Church Foundation’s Vital Practices blog has a post about the denomination wide health plan that was authorized by General Convention in 2009 and is set to go into effect in 2013.
The Q&A format is a basic introduction to the plan, there are still many specific details to be worked out and communicated. Laurie Kazilionis, Vice President, Client Relations, The Episcopal Church Medical Trust, answers some basic questions:
ECF Vital Practices (ECFVP): What was the impetus for a church-wide program of health care benefits for lay employees?
Episcopal Church Medical Trust (ECMT): I believe the General Convention saw it as a social justice issue. The support and dedication of lay employees make many ministries possible. The Episcopal Church, with its commitment to social justice, recognizes the need for its lay employees to have adequate health care benefits. Currently, some lay employees do not have access to health care benefits, and others have a higher cost share than clergy for the same benefits.
Resolution A177 requires that a cost-sharing policy be established by each diocese, and that it be the same for eligible clergy and lay employees. Compliance with the DHP is canonically required no later than January 1, 2013, thus assuring the Church’s eligible lay employees of the safety net of health care benefits.
While cost concerns around this initiative are real, providing adequate healthcare benefits is not only necessary, it’s the right thing to do.
ECFVP: What do Resolution A177 and its associated canon require of Church employers?
ECMT: Church employers are required to provide all eligible clergy and lay employees with equal access to and parity of funding for health care benefits, and these benefits are to be provided through the Medical Trust. Under the terms of this resolution, an eligible employee is someone who is scheduled for at least 1,500 hours of compensated work annually for any domestic diocese, parish, mission, or other ecclesiastical organization or body subject to the authority of the Church.
ECFVP: What is the role of the diocese?
ECMT: Each diocese is the primary partner in implementing the DHP. They continue to exercise autonomy and choice related to the DHP and: decide whether institutions under its authority (schools, social service agencies, etc) are required to participate; determine a cost-sharing policy that is the same for eligible clergy and lay employees; decide whether health care benefits must be offered to domestic partners; determine annually which Medical Trust health plan(s) will be offered in that diocese  communicate plan options to congregational and institutional employers in its diocese.
Read the rest here.