A177 – Denominational Health Plan

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This entry was originally posted June 23, 2009 as part of the website “Slouching Towards Anaheim.”

“Health is not valued till sickness comes.” – Dr. Thomas Fuller, 1732

First on the list of possible hot button issues is Resolution A177, the Denominational Health Plan. If adopted this resolution puts in place a mandated, nationwide health plan for church employees working 1500 hours or more annually (about 28 hours a week). Full text of the resolution can be seen at: http://gc2009.org/viewlegislation/view_leg_detail.aspx?id=882&type=Final


This resolution comes from years of research and study. Some important things to note:

  1. This resolution does not apply to dioceses outside the US, however many discussions have been held with these dioceses to determine how the Medical Trust can assist them
  2. There are exceptions: eligible full-time employees can waive coverage, and certain part time employees can choose to participate
  3. Certain choices are still left up to the individual dioceses to decide: plans to offer, cost sharing, domestic partner coverage and the possible participation of institutions such as schools and day cares.

It sounds like “parity” is one of the more important words being used in this resolution. One of the things A177 is looking to do is establish a greater equality between lay employees and the clergy. The two ways Sally Johnson brought up were 1) ensuring that cost sharing was the same between the two groups, and 2) if clergy receive family coverage, lay employees must receive the same. HOWEVER, in terms of this sense of “parity” the word “eligible” is also being tossed around. What worries me about this is it provides a loophole for dioceses not wishing to change their current coverage to claim that their lay employees simply are not eligible. Like so many resolutions, it might only apply to those who are already doing it.

While like any resolution A177 has it’s flaws, I think any serious problems with it will creep up on the convention floor. According to Dede Moore, the Diocese of Olympia will not be severely affected since most of the rules and policies set up by A177 are already in place here. And it is quite clear that this resolution is coming out of several years of research by the Church Pension Fund. However, oftentimes a seemingly good resolution is shown to be bad idea when a deputy goes to the microphone and speaks to how it will negatively affect her/his diocese. For now I am in support of the resolution, but could find myself swayed by a good and reasonable argument (but isn’t that how it should always be?)


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