Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

For the Healing of the Nation: 46 Million Reasons for Health-Care Reform

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

For the Healing of the Nation: 46 Million Reasons for Health-Care Reform

Article excerpt

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OUR HISTORY, BOTH as the church and as a country, can be told as a story of confronting and overcoming great challenges. It has never been easy, and the conflict of this summer's debate over health care and the health of our nation has shown just how difficult it can be.

We have been faced with missing and sometimes misleading information, challenged by both our greatest hopes and fears, and tested in our ability to stand for moral principles in the midst of genuine confusion, legitimate concerns, and aggressive ideologies. Sadly, we have seen even our communities of faith too often overcome by political polarization instead of helping to overcome it. But we know that real change only occurs when hope wins out over fear, when political ideologies are replaced with moral values, and when common ground can be found to achieve the common good.

In his September address to a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama made the commitments that a broad coalition in the faith community had asked for--reform as a moral issue, affordable coverage for all, and no federal funding of abortion.

First, the faith community had been asking the president to make "the moral case" for healthcare reform, not just the policy arguments--and he couldn't have been more clear about the moral imperative for fixing a broken system. He quoted a letter from Sen. Ted Kennedy, written last spring but delivered to the president after Kennedy's death, stating that health care "is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."

Second, we told the White House that the faith community will accept nothing less than accessible, affordable, and secure coverage for everyone. The president said that "if you're one of the tens of millions of Americans who don't currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices" And while there may be various means of achieving that goal, "I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice" He rejected the incremental approaches that will again postpone bringing everyone into America's health-care system and making sure it is working for all of us--and so should we.

Third, we told the president that we needed to hear a clear commitment to prohibit federal funding of abortion and to maintain a strong conscience protection. …

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