“Obamacare”: What ABCCR Pastors Need to Know

FACT_0324By Tarris Rosell, Ph.D., D.Min.
Professor of Pastoral Theology–Ethics & Ministry Praxis


An HVAC technician repaired my heat pump the other day. He billed for 15 minutes, but spent another 45 minutes telling me his life story. This happens.

“John” delves a bit into his political leanings, and initially seems unhappy about “Obamacare.” Then he mentions his own considerable and longstanding health issues. He says that as of this very day, November 1st, he has insurance coverage “for the first time in 8 or 9 years!” All this while John had been working full-time. But recently, his employer had fallen under a mandate to provide employees an insurance benefit. I suggest that maybe Obamacare is working for him after all. John is begrudging about that fact, but doesn’t deny it.

Indeed, it is working for John, if not yet for all.

The 2010 federal legislation known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has generated more political drama and debate than anything coming from Washington in recent memory. We could speculate on causes, but more helpful to pastors may be a brief response to this question: What do we need to know about “Obamacare”? Here is my short list.

About four years ago I received a call from a middle-aged farmer out in western Kansas. He was searching desperately for anyone who could help. “Billy” had found my name associated with “ethics” in a Google search, and thought his case had something to do with what I do, and maybe I could help. He had numerous health issues for which prescription medications were necessary, he said. But then his farm income dipped and he couldn’t afford to pay both for a doctor’s visit and meds. Eventually, he couldn’t get an appointment or a prescription. And he couldn’t get insurance because of pre-existing conditions or an astronomical premium for the state’s high-risk pool.

I wasn’t able to be of much help to Billy except to confirm that his case did have something to do with ethics—with right and wrong, good and bad. I hope the help available to him now via the PPACA has not come too little, too late.

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Resources for better understanding the PPACA:

Kaiser Family Foundation


Kansas Health Institute

(Rev) Tarris Rosell, PhD, DMin

Professor of Pastoral Theology—Ethics & Ministry Praxis

Central Baptist Theological Seminary

Rosemary Flanigan Chair at the Center for Practical Bioethics