Health Care Reform Enacted—Now What?
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
Hoping Against Hope
Advocacy groups reacted to the new health insurance law with feelings of hope. For some groups, it was hope that the law would result in greater justice. For others, it was hope for a victory in the courts or through the ballot box.
Heidi Unruh of Evangelicals for Social Action said she was thankful for the new law, particularly its "pro-life measures," its expanded coverage for the currently uninsured, and protections it would provide "from the greedy, health-impairing practices of insurance companies." She also saw it as an important step toward greater justice.
Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, agreed. He said despite being short of universal coverage, the law is a "significant step … for beginning to fix a broken system, for including 30 million more Americans, and for showing that, despite tremendous opposition and a massive campaign of distortion and fear, big things can still get done."
Of course, not all were as optimistic. Some were downright dejected.
"I felt like I got punched in the gut," said Focus on the Family host John Fuller, recounting his experience watching the House vote Sunday night.
But like many other conservatives, Fuller said he hoped that the bill would not be fully enacted.
Some groups are turning their energy toward the courts. The American Center for Law and Justice is planning to file amicus briefs in support of state lawsuits to overturn the law. Liberty Counsel is filing a lawsuit on behalf of Liberty University, which currently "self insures" its employees.
Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said that the law is unconstitutional because it requires people and large businesses to purchase health insurance.
"In passing this law, President Obama and the Democratic Congress acted like the Constitution does not exist," said Staver. "But one day, the Supreme Court Justices will have their own captive audience and this brazen illegal power grab will come to an end."
Other groups hoped Republican victories in November elections would lead to the law's repeal.
"The efforts already underway to repeal this amorphous bill deserve the public's support, but more importantly, it is time to change the Congress," said Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition.
Tom Minnery of Focus Action said in a webcast, "This is not the end of the opposition to the [health care bill]. This is an election year and people are as inflamed, concerned, involved as I have ever seen them … Elections make a difference."
Elijah Friedeman of the American Family Association called on voters to "remember that when you vote for a Democrat, even a conservative, pro-life Democrat, the candidate you're voting for is still a Democrat, a person who aligns himself with a pro-abortion party."
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission predicted "a 'tsunami-size' voter backlash." Land said that the Democrats' victory on health care is analogous to the Japanese claiming a big victory after Pearl Harbor.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, strongly opposed the law, but he did find the proverbial silver lining in its passage.
"If this debate proves anything, it's that the abortion movement is losing supporters by the millions," he said. "America is radically shifting in its opinion of the unborn—so much so that the only way Democrats could pass this bill was by putting a pro-life veneer on it."