Daily Archives: June 28, 2012

Health-care reform law: How Supreme Court ruling affects families

For the roughly 50 million uninsured Americans, the court’s ruling has the biggest implications. For the majority of citizens who currently have insurance, the ruling could mean some important changes as well, such as to their health plans or their personal tax rates.

Many less affluent Americans who do not qualify for Medicaid may now gain health coverage as the program is expanded.

For others among the ranks of some 50 million uninsured Americans, the law creates a system of tax subsidies ”“ designed to help more Americans afford health coverage ”“ plus the mandate to buy insurance or pay a fine.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Economy, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance

Full Document of Supreme Court Health Care Decision(s) [PDF]

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues

(Allan Haley) Supreme Court Does the Unexpected

Article Updated 9:30 pm 28th June – see the full article on the Anglican Curmudgeon link
The Supreme Court has ruled, 5-4, that the individual health care mandate passes constitutional muster as a tax, even though it is invalid under the Commerce Clause:

Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.

In other words, if you don’t want to follow the mandate, you pay the tax (penalty/fine … whatever). Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberals in upholding it as a tax, and joined the conservatives in finding that it violated the Commerce Clause, and could not be sustained under the Necessary and Proper Clause. (That is actually a big win, because it puts a limit on Congress’ ability to enact future social welfare laws.)

At the same time, the conservatives (again with the Chief Justice) managed indirectly to limit the application of, but not invalidate entirely, the Medicaid provisions. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan would have upheld the Medicaid provisions just as Congress wrote them, including the discretion granted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to withhold “all or any part” of a State’s Medicaid reimbursements unless it provided the expanded coverages that Congress added through the Act. Chief Justice Roberts viewed the grant of this discretion as too coercive

Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.

The four dissenters agreed, but regarded the rest of the Medicaid provisions as non-severable. For them, accordingly, the invalidity of the discretion granted to the Secretary meant the invalidity of all of the Medicaid expansion provisions. This would have left the rest of the Medicaid provisions in limbo, with four voting to strike them down in toto, four voting to uphold them in their entirety, and the Chief Justice wanting only to limit the application of one particular part. By concurring in part IV.B of his opinion (agreeing to keep the rest of the Medicaid provisions intact), therefore, the liberals led by Justice Ginsburg produced five votes in favor of keeping the other provisions as enacted, while the Chief Justice and the conservatives constituted five votes to curb the Secretary’s discretion. And that, dear readers, is an instance of the politics of the Supreme Court in action.

Bottom line: we are stuck with Obamacare largely as passed. The vote of Chief Justice Roberts saved most of the Act, 5-4, and limited (by the same margin, 5-4) the one part of the Act he did not like. He voted with the four liberals to uphold the mandate, but with the four conservatives to limit the conditions that Congress can attach to Medicaid funding……….

Read more here and [the unofficial but well informed] SCOTUS liveblog is recorded here with links to press coverage and articles.

Also Lyle Denniston: “Don’t call it a mandate – it’s a tax” SCOTUSblog (Jun. 28, 2012, 11:07 AM EDT)

and Kevin Russell Court holds that states have choice whether to join medicaid expansion SCOTUSblog (Jun. 28, 2012, 11:16 AM EDT)

The SCOTUSblog menu of links for the day are here and see also the Special Feature: Post-decision Health Care Symposium]

NPR: Interactive: Inside The Health Care Ruling

Posted in Uncategorized

A Preliminary Report on the Episcopal Diocese of Maine's Mutual Study of Ministry

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes, Theology

Bishop Mouneer Anis Writes his People about his recent visit with Mohammed Mursi

(Via email–KSH).

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Yesterday I received a phone call from the Presidential Palace asking me to meet with the new President of Egypt, Dr. Mohammed Mursi. The President also invited the heads of other the Christian denominations for the meeting.
We were received with a warm welcome from the President. Each one of us gave congratulations to the President and he assured us that Christians are equal citizens in Egypt and it is his duty to make sure that every citizen receives his or her rights. The President also told us stories from the history of Islam of how Muslim leaders were very keen to ensure the right of citizenship of all Christians in Egypt.

I assured the President of our prayers for him and also asked him to make the topic of “National Unity” a priority. By “National Unity” I mean, of course, equality between Christians and Muslims and applying the rule of law on all citizens. He immediately responded that there were attempts to disrupt this National Unity in the past and create a strained relation between Christians and Muslims. He promised to do his best to ensure the rights of Christians, especially in regard to building churches.

I also asked the President to consider attending one of the meetings of “Beit el Aila” the House of the Family, which is an initiative of the Grand Imam to bring Christian and Muslims leaders together to discuss ways to enhance the religious harmony. He immediately agreed to host one of these meetings.

I shared this news with the Grand Imam who was happy to hear that the President will give a serious attention to “Beit el Aila.”

I came out of the thirty-five minute meeting very encouraged. I must say that this initiative of the President carries in itself the desire to assure Christians that he will be the President of all Egyptians.

We will continue to pray for him and for our beloved country Egypt.

May the Lord bless you!

Yours in Christ,

–The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt
with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
President Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican
Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

(Washington Post) The Supreme Court’s Unusual moment in the spotlight

The first Monday in October and the last week of June, the bookends for each session, are always moments in the spotlight for the Supreme Court. But this is no ordinary time.

The court has rarely occupied so prominent a place in the public consciousness as now: deciding the constitutionality of a health-care plan that would touch every American, ruling on the president’s bitterly fought signature domestic achievement, issuing an opinion that will immediately affect election-year politics.

“More people have paid attention to this case than any other case in recent memory, probably with the exception of Bush v. Gore,” Paul D. Clement, who argued the case on behalf of the law’s challengers, told reporters last week.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues

Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches to Grapple With Same-Sex Marriage

The Episcopal Church, which has also seen dozens of congregations leaving over the years for its increasingly liberal theology, has already been blessing gay and lesbian couples for decades, but those wishing to change the legal definition of marriage want to make the commitment vow free of gender and official liturgy.

“The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” as the Episcopalian proposal is called, would first be used on a three-year trial basis if it passes, and then another decision would have to be made on whether to fully change Episcopalian doctrine to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage.

“I don’t think there is any member of the clergy that stayed [in The Episcopal Church] that didn’t know this was going to happen. This is the drift of the culture and, when you have a mass exodus of your conservatives, this is just inevitable,” expressed the Rev. James Simons, rector of St. Michael of the Valley in Ligonier.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NY Times) After Years of False Hopes, Signs of a Turn in American Housing Market

Announcements of a housing recovery have become a wrongheaded rite of summer, but after several years of false hopes, evidence is accumulating that the optimists may finally be right.

The housing market is starting to recover. Prices are rising. Sales are increasing. Home builders are clearing lots and raising frames.

Joe Niece, a real estate agent in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, said he recently concluded a streak of 13 consecutive bidding wars over homes that his clients wanted to buy. Each sold above the asking price.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Catholic Church’s role in society at heart of HHS debate, says Carl Anderson

The debate over the federal contraceptive mandate and the fight for religious freedom is not about “a particular policy choice” but is “a debate over the role of religion in American society and the freedom and integrity of the Catholic Church’s mission,” the head of the Knights of Columbus said June 22.

“It’s not an ordinary national debate. There’s a great deal at stake here,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson told Catholic News Service in an interview in Indianapolis. It is an attempt “to redefine the role of religion in America,” he added.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Politico) A viewer's guide to the Supreme Court health care ruling

If you thought Monday’s immigration decision was confusing, wait until the Supreme Court weighs in on health care Thursday. Court-watchers expect a flurry of opinions, dissents and concurring judgments ”” a confusing outcome for a complex law.

When that happens, all of Washington ”” and the law’s supporters and opponents throughout the country ”” will be scrambling for the quickest way to find out the law’s fate.

There are four questions before the court. They are….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General

Blog Open Thread–What Book(s) are you Reading this Summer?

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Irenaeus

Almighty God, who didst uphold thy servant Irenaeus with strength to maintain the truth against every blast of vain doctrine: Keep us, we beseech thee, steadfast in thy true religion, that in constancy and peace we may walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, who hast promised a blessing for all who suffer for righteousness’ sake: Grant to all our brethren persecuted for the truth that they may rejoice in being counted worthy to suffer dishonour for thy name. Strengthen their faith and renew their love, that in their patience they may possess their souls and win their persecutors to penitence and new brotherhood in thee; for the sake of him who suffered shame and reproach and remained invincible in his love, even thy redeeming Son, Christ our Lord.

–George Appleton

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

–Romans 5:1-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Spain win Euro 2012 Semi-final on penalty kicks

Posted in Uncategorized

(Living Church) Douglas LeBlanc–A Blue Book Sampler for General Convention 2012

At 759 pages and 155 resolutions, the Blue Book for the 77th General Convention addresses a broad range of topics, from blessing rites for same-sex couples to an embattled budget, from a kinder approach on clergy removal to additional Bible translations for lectionary readings.

This year’s Blue Book, like those of 2006 and 2009, is not blue. Instead, it is salmon (Pantone 169 M, to be precise)….Here is a sampling of the copious resolutions and reports from the church’s standing commissions and other bodies.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention