A decades-long court fight between a Christian health organization and the Kentucky state government is drawing the ire of some Tea Party activists.
Christian Care MediShare allows people to sign up for accounts and pay into a shared fund, then draw money to pay medical expenses. The state Supreme Court has ruled that MediShare is an insurance company and is not allowed religious exemptions to state law. Despite that, the organization has not changed its operations in the commonwealth.
"We have told MediShare officials, we would welcome you to get a certificate of authority to operate as an insurance company and they have indicated they do not want to do that," says Kentucky Department of Insurance spokeswoman Ronda Sloan.
The fight has led Tea Partiers to argue against insurance regulations on religious organizations in the state.
"What we need is to question at a very fundamental level how and even why we are regulating risk-sharing organizations or companies that help people pay for their health care expenses," says Tea Party activist David Adams.
But Sloan says the state's actions against MediShare and others like it has nothing to do with religion. Instead, it's about consumer protection. Currently, the state is hoping to get a contempt of court order ruling against MediShare for not following the Supreme Court's ruling. Two similar organizations, Samaritan Healthcare and Christian Healthcare, are also under renewed state scrutiny.