In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling upholding President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law which expands coverage to most Americans, ecumenical groups issued statements welcoming the decision, citing support of progress toward expansion of health care coverage for all.
The decision announced on Thursday upholds the 2010 law signed into law by Obama which requires most Americans to purchase health insurance starting in 2014 or else pay a tax.
Opponents of the law accused the government of going beyond its constitutional rights in expanding coverage. However Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the law should stand, citing the federal government's ability to tax.
"The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in the court's opinion.
"Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," he said.
The decision passed by a 5 to 4 vote.
The National Council of Churches, which says its members call for unity with inclusivity and a respect for diversity, said its longtime support for adequate healthcare "is a matter of preserving what our gracious God has made."
"[W]e are convinced that healthcare is not a privilege, reserved for those who can afford it, but a right that should be available, at high quality, to all," said NCC President Kathryn M. Lohre.
The group also cited its "special concern for society's most vulnerable members" which requires the nation to provide healthcare that limits cost sharing on the poor, expands coverage to low-income children and families, ensures sufficient funding for safety-net hospitals and clinics, promotes preventative care and prohibits denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions.
United Church of Christ General Minister and President Rev. Geoffrey A. Black said the decision "is a clear signal that we as a country are moving toward the realm of God on earth – the realm of this merciful, compassionate God, full of love for all."
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Minister and President Sharon Watkins said the court's decision helped make progress toward healthcare for all.
"Jesus' ministry was one of healing, bringing life to the dying, sight to the blind, wellness to the sick, and peace to the troubled. The call upon us is to make this vision a reality for all," she said.