Wednesday, March 4, 2015

J. Herbert Nelson speaks on SCOTUS and Health Care

This morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell. This case could take away access to health care for 8 million people and cause premiums to spike for millions more. A decision in favor of the petitioner, King, could eliminate tax credits to buy health coverage through the Affordable Care Act in approximately three dozen states. The resulting chaos would wreak havoc on the health care system, placing the most vulnerable people in our communities at risk.
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, PC(USA) Director for Public Witness, joined with several other faith leaders, patients, families, nurses, doctors, healthcare providers, and other allies to support health care subsides for millions of people in the U.S. and to affirm that health care is a human right, an essential component of human dignity and just community.
Nelson said, "We advocate so vigorously for affordable health care, because we know that sickness in public places is a barrier to building community."
To read the press statement about this morning's events, click here

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II in support of accessible healthcare for all, along with fellow heads of faith offices, Rabbi Lori Koffman (National Council of Jewish Women), Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe (United Method Church), Dr. Sayyid Syeed (Islamic Society of North America), Sandy Sorenson (United Church of Christ), and Sr. Simone Campbell (NETWORK).

J. Herbert Nelson's remarks, as prepared:

Benevolent, Beneficent, and Bountiful Creator, we humble ourselves before You as we ask that our prayers be heard and answered. We come before you as Ecumenical and Interfaith religious leaders appealing for guidance that only you can give. As we stand with millions of people today who could lose their health insurance by a ruling of this Supreme Court of our country, we petition You to exercise Your Supreme Authority that calls us here today to stand for the least of these among us.

We all can attest that in your mercy, you have reached down and provided a balm of healing amid our need. Therefore, our presence here today is a reminder to others that you are still in the business of hope and healing. Therefore, our advocacy for affordable healthcare is an affirmation of your Sovereign love for all of humanity.

We pray in the name of the Sovereign Creator, who chooses love over the law while giving grace in all things. Amen

Good morning. I am Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly has supported legislative efforts for affordable healthcare in Washington, DC for more than sixty years. They approved a resolution for advocacy on behalf of the uninsured. Despite our historic advocacy for a single payer system, we were excited in 2010 when the United States Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. We felt a move one stop closer to our nation realizing that the scriptures that we follow calls each of us to care for the least of these among us.

We advocate so vigorously for affordable healthcare, because we know that sickness in public places is a barrier to building community. Jesus teaches us through many biblical encounters that healing provides stability to the body; wholeness to the mind; and sustenance to the Spirit. When people are walking around unstable; lacking mental clarity and Spiritually disconnected it impacts households, institutions and whole communities.

In my travels, I have heard the testimonies of self employed professionals who are thankful that their premiums are significantly lower, because their pre-existing conditions are no longer held against them. On the other hand, I have heard from the poor who work every day and could not previously afford insurance for themselves or their children, giving thanks for the opportunity to know that they did not have to go to work sick or send their children to school while self diagnosing their conditions, because they could now afford a doctor’s care. When sick people are all around us, who cannot afford a balm of healing, we all are impacted.

I know these judges are deliberating over interpretations of the law, but let’s cut to the chase. This is an issue of national security, because my faith tells me that righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34a). This court has an opportunity to render a supreme judgment if they can recognize in their deliberations that highest law that they can render is one that is based in love.

Let affordable healthcare remain affordable for the estimated 8 million persons who stand to lose their insurance.