Board of Pensions works to amend the Affordable Care Act

Glenview, IL—According to a statement released by the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, clergy and lay employees of United Methodist churches may soon lose their health care coverage due to some coming provisions in the Affordable Care Act of 2013 (ACA or “Obamacare”). This potential loss of benefits is due to an oversight in the writing of the bill which overlooked clergy and lay employees of churches as potential recipients of special tax credits for the purchase of health insurance.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Church Health Plan Act of 2013 to fix this problem. The Affordable Care Act provides low and moderate income individuals and families with tax credits to cover the cost of commercial health insurance plans. The Pryor-Coons bill would extend the same tax benefits available to the general public to clergy and church employees receiving coverage from church health plans. Nationwide, more than 1 million clergy and church employees are covered by church health plans.

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is among the largest Protestant denominations in the U.S. Barbara A. Boigegrain, chief executive of the UMC pension and health benefits board, observed, “The majority of pastors and church workers are among the country’s low-to-moderate income level workers. They deserve to receive the full tax benefit under the law that corporate workers at small businesses will receive to help offset the cost of health insurance premiums or of health care costs. In the rush to establish a health care system that works for everyone, churches were overlooked. We ask our congressional leaders to represent all workers in the country, as they consider and vote on this legislation.”

Reverend George E. Rook, pastor of Grand Avenue United Methodist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is among the bill’s supporters. He noted, “Church health plans are important because they reflect our unique needs. In particular, this bill would help ease some of the problems that might arise for The United Methodist Church under the Affordable Care Act. Clergy in our denomination move from church to church frequently, so challenges could arise for us where one church would be in the regional conference’s church plan and another church would rely on the exchanges. I cannot think of any reason members of Congress would vote against this bill.”

The bill has the backing of many large and historic denominations including the Southern Baptist Convention, also among the largest Protestant denominations. The Southern Baptist plan (GuideStone) has provided pastors with health care benefits for more than 50 years.

GuideStone president and chief executive officer, O.S. Hawkins, said, “This bill will go a long way to righting that mistake. It won’t cost the government one penny more; it simply gives churches and pastors the same benefits available to other small businesses and employees. We’re asking for senators to put pastors over politics.”

Supporters face an uphill battle in the Senate

UMC Reverend Rook went on to say, “Churches have heard from members of Congress that ‘politics’ makes this bill difficult to pass. The clergy in this country can’t wait until one party or the other controls both the Congress and the White House. Churches need this concern fixed quickly.”

Ms. Boigegrain further emphasized, “From our standpoint this is not, nor should it ever become, a political issue. We sincerely hope our legislators—Democrat and Republican alike—can work together to amend this health care coverage oversight and provide bi-partisan support to give health care parity to over 1 million preachers, church lay workers and their families.”

According to the UMC Board of Pension and Health Benefits, clergy from more than 38 denominations are supporting the effort to enact the Church Health Plan Act of 2013.

This story provided by the UMC Board of Pension and Health Benefits. You may see the original story at


  1. It's useful to remember that, according to Nancy Pelosi, the United Methodist Church was one of the strong forces behind the passage of the ACA. We eagerly did this to ourselves. Perhaps we should have read what was in the ACA before we supported it?

  2. Oops! Guess voting on the aca before reading it was not such a hot idea after all. But, why is it a problem. Should not those who supported the aca and applauded the partisan midnight vote that made it law live by the law they supported? If government mandated and rationed healthcare paid for by other people's money is good enough for some, it should be good enough for all, even including those who thought it would only apply to other people.

  3. I doubt, John, that the progressives will remember what Ms. Pelosi said. What they do object to is that Obamacare is getting into their hip pockets and taking $$$ out of their wallets as opposed to "john q. methodist" who is supposed to keep their hip pockets full.

    • Jim, sadly I agree. Perhaps the only thing worse than having lobbyists (GBCS) that "do not speak for the church" (as our bishop put it in response to members criticism of the church's support of Obamacare) is having incompetent lobbyists who do not speak for the church. The sane approach would be to defund GBCS. Speaking out on controversial political issues where there is no clear scriptural warrant for the position taken is a good way to distract people from disciple making and discourage church growth.

  4. As a denomination and a nation we should have concentrated on those 40 million people without access to care. Much easier to handle than the hornets nest we are about to enter into. Sold as the Christian thing to do at the time but it is going to result in levels of care that are the exact opposite of our collective compassion toward our fellow man and woman.

  5. Mr. Voorhees: Following is a website you might add to your current news.

  6. Based upon the current political climate, it might be better to revise the United Methodist Church health insurance plan to meet that ACA requirements. After all, why should our clergy and lay staff have to accept insurance that is not up to the standards mandated by the ACA? See….

  7. Be careful what you wish for. Or is that: When you wish upon a star? I love this part: "Ms. Boigegrain further emphasized, “From our standpoint this is not, nor should it ever become, a political issue. " ACA has always been, and always will be, about politics.

  8. jpinsatx says:

    My Goodness… the sky is not falling… this is a very easy, quick and simple correction!

    • The sky MAY be falling. Take a look at what is happening in the nations capitol. The umc moves as the progressives move. Keep looking up…..signs and wonders are happening every day………………………………………….


  1. […] rob their employees of their health care. The UMC’s General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits has announced that lay employees and clergy may lose their health care coverage once the law goes into effect, […]

  2. […] a fix, United Methodist Church leaders say some of their churches could drop current coverage for employees once “Obamacare” takes full effect next year, according to […]

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