Yahoo Bot wrote:
I'll tell you the general rule and give exceptions.
The general rule: All decisions about medical care and bills are made locally, by the bishop. He uses a church bank account, based in Salt Lake City, to dispense the funds. Depending on the amount, he may need approval from his stake president or, as I have seen done, from an Area Authority who supervises the stake president (in California, that would be a President of the Seventy). Under no usual circumstances is money held "locally" before transmittal to Salt Lake. The Church uses a central cash management system, which requires a central bank account as the only source of funds.
I've never seen an individual decision questioned; I've seen a bishop who routinely dispenses medical assistance questioned. In training I went through, we were encouraged to seek out the poor to assist, but in California there is a government and private net able to provide for a lot of this stuff without the Church, and our poor members go there -- to a County hospital. There they can receive regular advice and medications; the problem usually is that it could involve a several-hour wait for a routine visit.
When I was a bishop, I took a pretty soft position on medical expenses; never withholding a request. I took a harder line on mortgage payments, where the mortgage was upside down. No sense spending $4500 to help somebody with their mortgage when $1500 would pay for a month's rent for a family of six.
Exceptions -- now the exceptions. In every set of rules there are exceptions.
There were direct relations between the ward and medical providers -- usually therapists, some times M.Ds. and pharamacists. The ward would be billed directly. Salt Lake money would pay for these.
Bishops (and home teachers) routinely reach into their own pockets or credit cards to pay the medical expenses of the indigent, and may or may not seek reimbursement from the Church. In my ward, I saw that all that time for one sister and one brother. The sister and the brother did not want to spend hours in the county hospital.
Other persons, like counselors or home teachers, may make the decision about health care expenses without consulting the bishop. Only when church funds come into play are bishops required to be involved. But in my ward there is a large net, funded by a a few wealthy folks, to handle the local needs of some without seeing the bishop. And, no, I am not one of those folks.
Although the handbook limits payment of medical expenses to members, I would routinely be asked to pay for expenses of non-members. On one occasion, the request came directly from Salt Lake for an indigent teenager.
Thank you for this detailed response.
I did wonder if the church encourages its members to take advantage of governmental assistance first. That does seem to indicate that church leaders realize that government assistance does have its place. As helpful as religious and charitable intervention may be, it seems to me that to expect people to rely on that altogether would overwhelm churches and charitable organizations.