Making a difference for health care reform
It seemed like the health care reform debate was never going to end. But yesterday, after a year of political twists and turns, the House finally passed a reform legislation package, which will cover 31 million currently uninsured Americans, make quality health care affordable for millions of under-insured American families, and end the insurance industry’s most abusive practices, such as rescission, discrimination on the basis of gender or pre-existing condition, and arbitrary premium hikes.
Throughout the year-long debate, faith groups worked for reform in a variety of ways: meeting with key elected officials, running pro-reform radio and tv ads in key states, holding prayer vigils and press conferences, organizing an audio webcast with President Obama and faith leaders, and – in the critical, final days – dispelling misinformation about the Senate bill’s abortion provisions (which threatened to derail health reform altogether) and holding a peaceful and prayerful vigil at the Capitol to counter the bigotry, vitriol and terror Tea Party protestors were spreading through the halls of Congress. And, more generally, people of faith framed health care as a moral issue by calling attention to the needs of real people who were excluded or abused by our current health care system.
In the coming days, health care reform will become the law of the land, and it’s fair to say that faith groups played a key role in making it happen. Community organizing groups, interfaith coalitions, national organizations and denominations took action together and individually to stand up for the sick, the poor, the vulnerable and the common good — because they were called by faith to do so.