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Pension Fund Encourages Adoption of Church Health Plan Act of 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Pension Fund of the Christian Church fully supports the Church Health Plan Act of 2014, and is urging pastors and other concerned individuals to contact their senators to co-sponsor the bill.

The Church Health Plan Act of 2014 (S. 1164), a bipartisan bill sponsored by Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), allows for equal treatment in the health care marketplace for pastors and others served by church health plans. Church plans that served pastors and others in ministry were disregarded when the Affordable Care Act launched in 2010, but the proposed legislation calls for changes to be implemented to account for these groups.

More than one million pastors and church workers participate in church health plans like those provided by Pension Fund through the Churchwide Healthcare program (CWHC).The Church Health Plan Act of 2014 provides legislation for eligible pastors and church workers-and their families-to keep their church plan coverage, and obtain access to tax credits and reductions available to other workers.

'It's imperative that we gain the attention of Congress to work for the good of pastors and others in ministry,' said James Hamlett, president and CEO of Pension Fund. 'We encourage everyone who finds it in their heart to advocate to their lawmakers in support of those in faithful service. If passed in Congress, this bill would ensure that church plans can remain cost-competitive with private insurers, and allow pastors and church workers to remain with a health plan that reflects their core values.'

Pension Fund joins many church plan sponsors involved in advocacy efforts for supporting those who have dedicated their lives to ministry. Pension Fund's CWHC program has had a long history of nearly half a century of offering unique health care benefits to those in ministry. The recent changes in health care through the ACA threaten the historic role of church health plans by placing a greater financial burden on ministry workers who already have disproportionately low incomes.

Hamlett is active in collaboration with leaders of other church plan providers to make known to Congress and regulators the compelling needs of ministers and lay church employees who are served by church health plans.

'Our mission remains one that is supportive of the ministry, and that includes maintaining strong, competitive and affordable health programs,' said Hamlett. 'Anything less would fall short of what our members and participants who accept the call to Christian ministry deserve.'

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Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) provides pension and retirement savings programs for clergy and lay employees of congregations, regions, general ministries and church-related colleges and seminaries. Pension Fund manages over $3 billion in net assets on behalf of those serving in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and related international ministries (www.pensionfund.org).

Christian Church Health Care Benefit Trust (CCHCBT): The CCHCBT and Pension Fund of the Christian Church have been providing church-wide health care coverage since 1972, and dental care coverage since 2004. This program offer a variety of medical plans, including prescription drug and vision coverage, dental plans and flexible spending account administration (Medicare Supplement plans are also available for eligible members). Visit http://www.pensionfund.org/products-and-services/health-benefits for more information.