Congress Exempts Amish From Health Care Bill

There is an interesting controversy brewing over the current version of the health care bill in which Amish families are exempted from the mandatory coverage. Other groups may also receive exemptions.

For some Americans who do not want to pay for health insurance (but face a fine under the law), the exemptions are likely to trigger challenges. Why should an Amish person be allowed exemption, but not someone with political or philosophical opposition to the insurance?

The Amish do use medical facilities and regular doctors, but they pay in cash. They believe that such care is the primary responsibility of their church.

The question is why religious conscientious objectors are given exemptions but not secular conscientious objectors. There are plenty of people who have profound objections to this plan that are not religious based. Is it far to allow only faith-based objectors to get exemptions so that some Christians can apply but not Cato members?

Congress can probably prevail in such distinctions (much like conscientious objectors to the draft), but it raises in my view a legitimate question of fairness.

For the story, click here.

185 thoughts on “Congress Exempts Amish From Health Care Bill”

  1. In March of this year, President Barak Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, officially known as H.R. 3590, or Healthcare Reform. Part of this law will require that by 2014, most Americans must purchase government regulated health insurance. In fact, Section 1501 of the act adds a new chapter to the IRS code that mandates all “applicable” individuals to either obtain health insurance that meets the bill’s “minimum essential coverage” standards. If they do not, they will be required to pay a penalty.

    Religious Conscious Exemptions

    There are, however, some healthcare bill exemptions. First, the new law creates a religious conscience exemption for those who are members and faithful adherents of a recognized religious sect or division. The provision may exempt those individuals from the mandatory health insurance purchase requirement if they are members of religions that have established tenets or teachings that bar the “acceptance of the benefits of any private or public insurance.”

    The religious conscience exemption is defined as:

    1. If a “recognized” religious sect or division can be exempt, what of one that is not “recognized” (IRS approved?)?
      For the government to “recognize” a religion, a religious sect or division, is to establish a religion, which is forbidden by the First Amendment.
      And what of a religious faith that does not have any sects (divisions) but teaches that it is the only true church or religious faith?
      How long does a tenet or teaching have to be “established” in order to qualify?
      What does it take to be considered by the government as “faithful”? Meet every time the doors to the assembly facility is open? Many churches and religions keep their meeting houses and temples open 24/7.

  2. The grant by Congress to Amish (and a few others’) refusal to participate in any insurance is not based on their religion as such but on their long history of collective caretaking of one another in need. As no nonreligious groups have ever established such a system that endured (a few utopian groups have, but they fizzled out after a while), it is only a few religious groups that qualify. Congress’ accommodation was specifically engendered by the IRS’ attacks against the Amish but a few other groups, mainly Anabaptists like the conservative Mennonites and the Hutterites, also qualify.
    Religion has a special place in American history as a major part of the migrations to America and the secession of the 13 English colonies from the Crown was religion. The majority of people in the colonies were only superficially, if that, religious, many not being “churched” at all, but it was the religious who constituted the organized core of independence and secession.
    Many religious societies have and do have programs to aid the needy but they do not have formally established doctrines of social assurance as do the Amish and a few similar groups. Most if not all Christian groups that do aid the needy are not opposed to commercial insurance, generally regarding those who do not purchase commercial insurance to protect themselves, their families and any they might damage (like auto liability insurance) as neglectful or too poor to afford it.

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