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Speaking from the floor of the Chapel on May 16, Phil Davis, the Manager of the Committee on Publication (COP) in Boston, addressed healthcre reform and its effect on Christian Scientists. Davis and Gary Jones, the manager of the Federal office of the COP, who aided Davis with his work in Washington, D.C., spoke about the state of healthcare for Christian Scientists and the work they are doing.
“You’d like us to get to the bottom line,” Davis began his talk. “We did not get what we were looking for.”
“I’m not trying to mask over a defeat,” Davis said. “I’m concerned with winning the war, not the battle. That’s why we’re not giving up.”
Davis said that he and his team worked to keep spiritual healing an option for everybody, not specifically working for “my exemption.” He explained that although he and Jones did not achieve their goal within the healthcare bill, the bill is still not a done deal.
In the end, when the bill reached a certain number of passable votes, it was consciously passed as an imperfect document. Therefore, before the bill goes into effect in 2014, plenty of litigation and legislative haggling will change its shape.
Besides continuing to talk to congressional leaders, Davis said, their work now lies in partnering with corrective legislation that is open to language that will ensure a non-discrimination provision for spiritual healing with insurance companies. When viewed this way, insurance companies could not reject an applicant without considering the options first.
Davis explained that while current healthcare standards are viewed as monopolistic and exclusive, his board wants to show the opposite: “We want to allow people a menu of choices that people are going to look at in 2014 that includes Christian Science.”
When the healthcare debate began, Davis went to the Christian Science Board of Directors to discuss the options. These options included a way to opt into the system based on religion, a way to opt out, or a combination of the two. Jones explained that opting into the system was the only reasonable direction.
The only way Christian Scientists could opt out of the system would involve assurance from the individual that they come from a community, like the Amish, that takes care of all needs and bills.
Davis shared anecdotes about meeting important members of Congress, gratitude for individuals that helped establish connections, and all-nighters on Capitol Hill. He explained that when dealing with the bill, “Everything’s about money, politics … Nobody’s ever talking about effective healthcare.”
He explained the real work of the COP is to protect the population’s access to Christian Science. “How are we making the Christ available?” Davis asked, adding that their work was really about honest healthcare reform for the world.
Jones agreed, stressing the need for “caring for humanity, and not for a sect.”
The job of the Committee on Publication is two-fold. First, the COP is a sort of media relations head, ensuring that information published about Christian Science is accurate. This often requires interviews with the media. Second, the COP works with lawmakers to ensure the rights of Christian Scientists and to ensure that those in political power understand Christian Science.
It is this second job that had COPs across the nation putting in long hours during the formation of the healthcare bill over the past year. Davis worked with the COP office in Washington, D.C., visiting members of Congress.
President Barack Obama emphasized the need to bring everybody into the system and make sure that all Americans are cared for without being a financial burden on taxpayers. For example, if someone outside of the healthcare system needed to go to the emergency room, he or she would need to personally pay for the cost of the ambulance, care, etc., otherwise that cost would fall to taxpayers.
Roger Gates, the Illinois COP, and David Corbitt, the Missouri COP, were in attendance to answer questions as well. After the talk, the Principia Christian Science Organization presented Gates and the Illinois COP office with a $10,000 donation. Spanish professor Duncan Charters proposed to the CSO board the idea of the donation when he discovered that the Illinois COP office was struggling financially.
Anderson RC Reid Charlston, head of the Outreach Committee, helped to see the gift through and presented the donation alongside Charters and the CSO president, junior Jodie Maurer.
“The COP for Illinois is so grateful,” said Gates, expressing his gratitude to the CSO. “It will go a long way. We’re doing more; we’re proactive. We’re building relationships with the media.”
Relationship-building with individual members of the media and government is one way the COP is reaching outside of the Christian Science community.
“It’s so much harder to communicate if you’re working through another medium,” said Gates. “We need to build credibility and trust to show we’re worth talking with, listening to.”