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Faith Leader Summit on Health Care

Faith Leader Summit on Health Care

Summer is heating up, and so is the debate over health care reform. Yesterday, a group of nearly 30 religious leaders rolled up their sleeves, put on their sunscreen (figuratively, of course), and jumped right in.
At the Faith Leader Summit on Health Care, a diverse group of denominational heads and leaders of national faith groups spent the day on the Hill identifying common ground and sharing hopes and expectations for health care reform legislation.
The summit attendees met with officials in the Obama administration and Congress, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI). Additionally, they heard from Ralph Neas of the National Coalition on Health Care, Ron Pollack of Families USA, and Mark McClellan of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution.
I was shuttling in and out of the room, as I spoke with advance teams and schedulers to keep our jam-packed day on schedule. Even so, it was clear that the day was incredibly inspirational and powerful. The group truly lifted up the moral voice for health care reform, pushing those they met with to respond to issues of affordability and universal coverage for all, especially for those who are poor, vulnerable and often left behind. The members of the administration and Congress welcomed these sentiments, and in turn stressed the urgency of this moment and asked the religious leaders to bring their messages back to those in their congregations.
Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, echoed the need for action: "We have talked, all of us, about what we are going to do. We are going to rise up and use our prophetic voices to make a difference. We have been told there are lobbyists galore...but today we have phone numbers, where we can call and have millions of voices calling and we will do that. We'll do that together as a community."
The "phone number" he is referring to is 1-866-210-3678, a toll-free number that is available all summer for advocates to call their Representatives and Senators in D.C. and tell them we need comprehensive health care reform that ensures access to quality, affordable care for all.
At the end of the day, the toll-free number was just one thing the religious leaders will bring back to their membership. Most importantly, they will share the sense of urgency that is felt on Capitol Hill, and together they will lift up the voices of the millions of people of faith who can no longer tolerate the fear of change that allows our broken health care system to persist.

Published: 7/08/2009

Categories: Social Justice, Uncategorized
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