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Thousands of faith leaders send letter, run full-page ad for health reform

PC(USA) stated clerk, Washington Office join summit-eve appeal

February 24, 2010

WASHINGTON

On the eve of the Bi-Partisan Health Care Summit in Washington, D.C., Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and the Presbyterian Washington Office have joined thousands of faith community leaders and organizations urging the Obama administration and Congress to “complete the task at hand on behalf of the millions who are left out and left behind in our current health care system.”  

In addition to the Feb. 24 letter to the President and Congress — under the umbrella groups Faithful Reform in Health Care and the Washington Interreligious Staff Community — the religious leaders are running a full-page print advertisement in The Hill and an additional online ad at The Hill's Web site, showcasing the letter and its signers. 

The letter concludes: “As people of faith, we envision a society where every person is afforded health, wholeness and human dignity. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously wrote in his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’ Less well known is his admonition that ‘of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’ Let us not delay health care justice any longer. This is your moment for political courage, vision, leadership and faith. We urge you to take heart and move meaningful health care reform forward.”

The letter was signed by more than 4,000 people of faith, 58 national religious organizations, more than 80 regional and state faith organizations, and 26 national faith leaders. 

The full text of the Feb. 24 letter:

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress:

We are communities of faith who have supported comprehensive health care reform for decades.

We have also offered vocal support — and occasional constructive criticism — of the health care reform effort over the last year. We write to you at this critical juncture to urge you to complete the task at hand on behalf of the millions who are left out and left behind in our current health care system.

Opportunities to comprehensively address our broken health care system are rare. Decades of failed attempts at reform testify to the difficulty of this task, and we know that the current effort has not been easy. However, we now stand closer than ever before to historic health care reform.

Turning back now could mean justice delayed for another generation and an unprecedented opportunity lost.

We know that no comprehensive health care reform bill will be perfect. (Indeed, if any piece of legislation ever fulfills our full vision, our vision is far too small.) However, we also know — as providers and consumers of services and care — that inaction at this critical moment is no way forward:

  • Without reform, tens of thousands will continue to die needlessly each year for lack of access to care.
  • Without reform, tens of millions will remain uninsured and without adequate access to a full range of services.
  • Without reform, health costs will continue to grow much faster than wages.
  • Without reform, many millions of hard-working people and their children will join the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured.
  • Without reform, businesses, staggered by increasing employee health costs, will either drop coverage or will be unable to make needed investments.
  • Without reform, the nation’s economy – and its ability to create jobs – will suffer.

As people of faith, we envision a society where every person is afforded health, wholeness and human dignity. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously wrote in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Less well known is his admonition that “of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Let us not delay health care justice any longer. This is your moment for political courage, vision, leadership and faith. We urge you to take heart and move meaningful health care reform forward.

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