As Kristin noted, yesterday faith leaders nationwide observed a day of remembrance and action for healthcare reform in a variety of ways, from holding prayer services to speaking at press conference to visiting Members of Congress. News clips today from across the country reflect as much, in places as diverse as Alabama, North Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Washington, DC. It just goes to show that healthcare reform is an issue that still resonates in congregations across the country after a months-long debate in Congress, and that the media is noticing.
As part of a National Day of Remembrance and Hope, faith leaders who are working to pass health reform gathered at Washington, DC’s National City Christian Church today for “An Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Hope for Health Care for All.” Below are some video clips of the solemn yet inspiring service, taken by FPL intern Justin Charity.
DeWayne Davis of the Episcopal Church’s Washington office reflects on and prays for those who have died or suffered because they lacked healthcare:
Rev. Graylan Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ calls the congregation to action on health care reform:
Rev. Stephen Gentle of National City Christian Church gives an interfaith benediction:
Ensuring that quality health insurance is affordable and accessible for all American families has been a high priority for the faith community for quite a while now. Over the past few months, the faith community has organized a call-in with the President that 300,000 have listened to online and services of remembrance and hope , produced study materials and radio and television ads, preached sermons on health care, distributed fliers and told the stories of real people hurt by our broken health care system. People of faith have been creative, dedicated, and passionate in their support for healthcare reform and their remembrance of the lives lost because of our country’s failure to fix the system earlier.
Time isn’t on our side– with every day that passes, more than 14,000 people lose their healthcare coverage, more people are forced to declare bankruptcy because of staggering medical costs, and more families go without needed medical care. According to a recent Harvard University study, 45,000 people have died each year from a lack of health insurance.
At noon today, people of faith will gather in Washington, DC (at National City Christian Church) to remember those 45,00 and to call on Congress and the Obama administration to display strong moral leadership. Similar services are happening across the country, from Lexington, KY to Oakland, CA.
Just before this interfaith service in DC, faith leaders came together on Capitol Hill for a prayer rally and press conference to push for necessary fixes to the Senate Finance Committee bill, which still requires families to spend too much on healthcare that covers too little.
Congress has made some important progress on healthcare reform, but we need to keep the momentum going; this is a historic opportunity and we simply can’t afford to miss it.
A short while ago, the Senate Finance Committee approved its healthcare reform bill by a 14-9 vote. One of those 14 was Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who has been encouraged to support reform by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders in Maine. (See here for a local news story about one such effort.)
Now that bills have passed all committee votes in both houses of Congress, healthcare reform is headed to the floor. Following a summer of robust, multifaceted advocacy by diverse coalitions of national religious groups, community organizing networks, and local clergy across the country, reform is awfully close to passing, but the struggle isn’t over. In the coming weeks, as all sorts of interest groups descend on Congress for a final lobbying push, faith leaders are organizinglocal events across the country and lobby visits to key legislators to keep the momentum and pressure up.
One of the things I love about our pursuit for common ground here at Faith in Public Life is that once you start looking for fertile ground to come together, more and more possibilities crop up. Beth blogged last week about maternity coverage as a place for common ground. This week, several U.S. Senators made the case on the Senate floor for not only access to maternity and pre-natal care, but equitable access to health care for both men and women. Did you know that women can be denied coverage because they’re pregnant? Or that pregnancy can be considered a pre-existing condition by insurance companies? So can domestic violence. Women are charged more for insurance, and receive fewer benefits and less coverage for their premiums.
These female Senators know all too well about these inequities, whether from their own experiences, stories from loved ones, or impassioned pleas from the voters they represent. For instance, Sen. Mary Landrieu told of a constituent of hers, a 25-year-old woman, who spends 20% of her meager income on her health care coverage. Watch the video, from Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check:
And it’s not just Senators who are speaking up– the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice sent out an action alert to its members this week, asking them to contact their Member of Congress and urge them to end the discriminatory practice of using domestic violence as a pre-existing condition for health coverage.
Couldn’t this be such a fertile place for common ground? No woman should be discriminated against because she bore a child or was a victim of domestic violence. Surely, we can all agree on that.