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house Bill H.R. 1201

Should Religious Exemptions to Obamacare’s Individual Mandate be Expanded?

Argument in favor

Obamacare already grants religious exemptions to the individual mandate to individuals whose religious organizations are recognized by the Social Security Administration. This bill merely expands the religious exemptions by allowing individuals to file affidavits stating their beliefs with their annual income tax returns for the last year the individual mandate is in effect.

Larry's Opinion
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07/24/2018
Religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution. No law is permitted to contradict that. So, yes, any part of Obamacare that intrudes on religious freedom is unconstitutional.
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James 's Opinion
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07/24/2018
No one should be forced to buy anything including services. People should not be forced to provide a service that is against their conscience. This is slavery.
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Brian's Opinion
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07/24/2018
Absolutely, Obamacare already grants religious exemptions to the individual mandate to individuals whose religious organizations are recognized by the Social Security Administration. This bill merely expands the religious exemptions by allowing individuals to file affidavits stating their beliefs with their annual income tax returns for the last year the individual mandate is in effect.
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Argument opposed

Allowing individuals to decline health insurance may be dangerous on an individual level, as many illnesses require modern medicine for treatment. Additionally, depending on the number who claim religious exemptions, exempting too many people from the individual mandate may weakness the overall healthcare market by taking too many people out of the system.

Kodiwodi's Opinion
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07/24/2018
Religion needs to stay the hell out of government healthcare decisions making period. Christianity especially. I’m sick to death of the hypocrisy of so called Christians being forced down my throat. If they are going to deny services or be granted special services then I believe that they should have to pass a test to be certain they are abiding by ALL tenets of their religion before special status is granted to them. Additionally, I believe that in granting special statuses or privileges it must be shown that this will no way harm or inconvenience other people’s views or convictions. I’ve had enough! Whether it’s insurance, or vaccines, or refusal to treat or women’s reproductive rights, religion needs to stay in the church.
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Griffin's Opinion
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07/24/2018
Religious exemptions should be eliminated, not expanded.
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A.HamsLegacy's Opinion
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07/24/2018
This is just another way to undermine the ACA.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed July 24th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedFebruary 17th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 1201?

This bill — known as the Equitable Access to Care and Health Act, or EACH Act — would expand Obamacare’s religious conscience exemption to the individual mandate to maintain health insurance coverage for individuals who rely solely on a religious method of healing, and for whom the acceptance of medical health services would be inconsistent with their religious beliefs. The individual mandate was repealed effective in the upcoming 2019 tax year by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, so this would expand the religious exemption for the rest of 2018.

Specifically, the bill would provide an exemption from the individual mandate if an individual files an affidavit as part of their annual income tax return stating that they don’t have the required insurance because of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Impact

Religious objectors to medical health services; religious communities; Obamacare; Social Security Administration (SSA); and Internal Revenue Services (IRS).

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1201

The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation have estimated that this bill would reduce the deficit by $31 million over the FY 2019-2028 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced this bill to protect religious freedom by expanding the religious conscience exemption under Obamacare:

“Six years later, Obamacare continues to violate the religious freedom of many of my constituents by forcing them to buy health insurance against their faith or otherwise face a penalty. “The EACH Act simply broadens the religious exemption to ensure those who rely solely on a religious method of healing, like Christian Scientists, are not forced to purchase health insurance when these services violate their religious beliefs. This change is necessary to protect the religious liberties that every member of Congress swore to uphold.”

Americans United, which advocates for separation of church and state, opposes this bill, arguing that it’s a way for members of certain religious groups to “have their cake and eat it too”:

“[U]nder the EACH Act, Christian Scientists can refuse to purchase health insurance, yet still obtain certain medical care including routine dental, vision, and hearing services, midwifery services and vaccinations… [t]he insurance mandate, therefore, isn’t actually a religious burden on these individuals, as these individuals don’t object to insurance itself.”

Rita Swan, President of Children’s Healthcare is a Legal Duty (CHILD), and a former Christian Scientist whose son died from spinal meningitis after 12 days of prayer treatment by a Christian Scientist practitioner, has also argued against this bill. Ms. Swan contends that children could be harmed if their parents are exempt from purchasing health insurance.

There are 21 bipartisan cosponsors of this bill, including 18 Republicans and three Democrats.

The Christian Science Church, whose members would be affected by this bill’s passage, has lobbied aggressively in favor of this billActor Val Kilmer, who is a committed Christian Scientist, supports this bill, and visited Capitol Hill to lobby for a previous version of this bill in 2013.


Of NoteCurrently, Obamacare provides for a religious conscience exemption to the individual mandate. Implementing regulations issued by the Administration have thus far allowed individuals to qualify for this exemption if they are members of a religion already recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the SSA excludes many religious organizations that provide health, education, and charitable services, and therefore their members are currently ineligible for the individual mandate exemption.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStock / baona)

AKA

EACH Act

Official Title

To amend section 5000A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an additional religious exemption from the individual health coverage mandate, and for other purposes.

    Religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution. No law is permitted to contradict that. So, yes, any part of Obamacare that intrudes on religious freedom is unconstitutional.
    Like (25)
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    Religion needs to stay the hell out of government healthcare decisions making period. Christianity especially. I’m sick to death of the hypocrisy of so called Christians being forced down my throat. If they are going to deny services or be granted special services then I believe that they should have to pass a test to be certain they are abiding by ALL tenets of their religion before special status is granted to them. Additionally, I believe that in granting special statuses or privileges it must be shown that this will no way harm or inconvenience other people’s views or convictions. I’ve had enough! Whether it’s insurance, or vaccines, or refusal to treat or women’s reproductive rights, religion needs to stay in the church.
    Like (131)
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    Religious exemptions should be eliminated, not expanded.
    Like (107)
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    This is just another way to undermine the ACA.
    Like (80)
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    How many different religions are there and how do you accommodate them all. If religions start getting expanded preferential treatment, maybe they should start paying taxes
    Like (54)
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    Religions are already exempt from so much they are just businesses that get away with a bunch of things
    Like (37)
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    When they start paying taxes they can have a say
    Like (35)
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    No religious exemptions. No religion at all. Separation of Church and State!
    Like (30)
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    I do not want my religion to govern your health care and I sure don’t want your religion making decisions on my health care.
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    I'm really sick and tired is these religious exemptions on anything. They didn't
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    This administration has done enough to set womens rights back 50 years.
    Like (19)
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    No one should be forced to buy anything including services. People should not be forced to provide a service that is against their conscience. This is slavery.
    Like (18)
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    No reference to any religion in any law.
    Like (17)
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    Everyone needs healthcare! If you disagree, you're wrong!
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    Short answer: No. Long answer: Noooooooooooooo.
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    Separation of Church and State
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    We need to provide health care that our doctors and other providers have decided is right for our needs. Not based on religious beliefs of others.
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    An Individual adult has the right to refuse medical treat. Taking away medical care from children is child abuse. This expansion will cause this type of violence to occur. The exceptions should be eliminated. I do not want to pay for their medical mess by not having medical coverage when needed which will potentially cause the death of an innocent child. We live in a secular world with multiple religions. There are parts of all religions that are based on culture or ignorance and are wrong. Science and medicine have achieved a very high level of accuracy in dealing with health issues and continually improving. To deny this advancement is the same as still believing the earth is flat!
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    This is nothing but a scam by Congress to further charge the middle class for those irresponsible individuals that would rather spend their money on things that they don’t even need and pass on their health cost to to tax payers. Hospitals by law still have to take care of them so at the end of the day who’s paying for that cost? US!!!!!!
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    Absolutely, Obamacare already grants religious exemptions to the individual mandate to individuals whose religious organizations are recognized by the Social Security Administration. This bill merely expands the religious exemptions by allowing individuals to file affidavits stating their beliefs with their annual income tax returns for the last year the individual mandate is in effect.
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