Davis Bill to Protect Religious Liberties Passes House
H.R. 1201, the Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act, exempts individuals who rely solely on a religious method of healing and whose acceptance of medical health services would be inconsistent with their religion from being forced to purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty under the Affordable Care Act. This bill passed in both the 113th and 114th Congresses, but was held up in the Senate.
Davis spoke in support of the EACH Act on the House Floor. Click here for the full video of his remarks.
Below are his written remarks:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
First, I would like to thank the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Brady, for his continued leadership on this issue and for helping bring this legislation back to the floor of the House.
Today, this Congress has an opportunity to work in a bipartisan way to promote religious liberty and fairness. H.R. 1201, the Equitable Access to Care and Health, or EACH Act, does this by modestly expanding the religious conscience exemption under the Affordable Care Act to include individuals who rely solely on religious methods of healing.
The current religious conscience exemption under the Affordable Care Act exclusively applies to only a few select faiths. As a result, some Americans, including Christian Scientists, are required to purchase medical health insurance that does not cover the health care of their religious practice and choice.
They are therefore forced with the choice of violating their conscience by purchasing traditional health insurance or violating the law by not complying with the individual mandate.
Under the EACH Act, applicants must attest annually that they are a member of a religious group, that they rely solely on a religious method of healing, and that they have not received medical health services during the preceding taxable year.
Additionally, with the help of input from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the bill makes it clear that the legislation does not pre-empt any state laws requiring the provision of medical treatment for children.
Further, if a parent needs to provide “necessary medical services” to a child, doing so would not invalidate the individual’s exemption.
The EACH Act is truly an example of bipartisan legislation with input from stakeholders to make it better. I am proud to have worked with my friend and colleague, Mr. Keating, on moving this legislation forward. He knows this issue well. His home state of Massachusetts established a similar religious conscience exemption in State law more than 10 years ago.
I also represent Principia College, a college for Christian Scientists in Elsah, Illinois. While working on this bill, I have heard from both students and professors from Principia on the importance of passing this legislation and what it would mean to their lives. I am proud to stand up and help protect their religious liberty.
Mr. Speaker, this legislation is about as straightforward as it gets. It is broadly bipartisan, promotes religious liberty and fairness, and it also saves the taxpayers money. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that passing the EACH Act would save the taxpayers $31 million if enacted.
The EACH Act passed this House in both the 113th and 114th Congresses, but unfortunately it was held up in the Senate. It’s time that Congress finally pass the EACH Act out of both chambers and send it to the President’s desk for signature.
I urge a yes vote, and I yield the remainder of my time.