At SustiNet Health Care Cabinet meeting, faith leaders pray for the dead and dying

As they have for the past four months, Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care leaders and their allies held a prayer vigil at the monthly SustiNet Cabinet meeting. On March 13th faith leaders in the health care for all movement came together to hold the cabinet accountable to their vital task of expanding access to health care, reducing costs, and addressing racial disparities in the system.

To shed light on the urgent need for change, members of the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care prayed for those who are suffering without health care, and for those who have literally lost their lives because they could not afford the care they desperately needed. Fellowship leaders delivered a basket filled with the names of their family members, friends, neighbors, and congregants who have suffered and died due to a lack of health coverage to Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman (who chairs the Cabinet).

Rev. Dave Nelson and Rev. Sonia Gutierrez deliver the names of people who have died or who are currently suffering due to lack of access to the health care they desperately need to Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

Outside the entrance to the room where the SustiNet Cabinet was meeting, Interfaith Fellowship co-chairs Rev. Damaris Whittaker and Rev. Josh Pawelek gave a Eulogy for Those Who Lost Their Lives because they didn’t have quality, affordable, accessible health care. You can read the full Eulogy on Rev Josh Pawelek’s blog.

The SustiNet Cabinet is charged with creating a business plan for “alternatives to private insurance,” including the Public Option. With 400,000 residents of CT without access to health care and many small businesses and municipalities crippled by the cost of insurance, it’s clear our system is broken; fixing a problem of this magnitude will require a large-scale, coordinated, public response. The public option IS the pathway to do that – to bring healing to people across the state and end gross racial and ethnic disparities.

The SustiNet Cabinet can open that pathway. The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care (IFUHC) delivered this message, urging Cabinet members to see their duties through until we have health care for all.

This is a crucial year for health reform: Connecticut is putting together the building blocks for quality, affordable health care for everyone. In 2014, full federal reform takes effect, and we must make good decisions THIS YEAR to get it right. Good decisions require an open process and public involvement. Your help is needed to make sure that the laws passed in 2011 live up to their promise and that we are fully prepared for federal health reform. STAND WITH US!

Interfaith Fellowship activists at the January 10th, 2012 SustiNet Cabinet meeting prayer vigil

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Clergy activists’ “Love Ambush” a plea to expand access to health care

Clergy from across the state came together for a powerful Valentine’s “Love Ambush” Action & “Where’s the LOVE for health care?” interfaith prayer vigil

Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, healthcare4every1, and allies in the movement for health care justice descended on the Capitol with a message for Governor Malloy (whose recent State of the State address made no mention of health care despite 2012 being the key year for states to put federal reform in place) “Don’t give all your LOVE to the insurance industry – save some for the the people!”

On Tuesday, February 14th the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care led a “Love Ambush” action & prayer vigil to remind state leaders that this is a crucial year for health care reform and the people of CT are relying on them to get it right. Frustrated by lack attention to the moral and economic crisis that is our broken health care system, the Faith leaders called on Governor Malloy and legislators to address the “Love Deficit” and “Share the Health” with all. They called for more to be done in 2012 to expand access to health care and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities.

During a moving, impassioned  vigil outside the SustiNet Cabinet meeting numerous clergy took turns leading prayers. (See below for video of Rev. Victor Gomez’s prayer, interpreted from Spanish into English by Rev. Abraham Hernandez, and check out Rev. Josh Pawelek’s blog story about the action). Clad in red and carrying banners, flowers, streamers, and handmade posters and signs, the Fellowship departed the SustiNet Cabinet meeting and led a “bleeding hearts” procession to the Office of the Governor, where they delivered hundreds of “Valentines.”  These messages of love -many made by church youth groups- called on the governor to do more to address gross inequalities and disparities in health care.

“We are standing here today because we believe in love. We believe all God’s children deserve love. We call on Governor Malloy to remember those who are being shut out, discriminated against, and kept down by the health care system. We call on him to show love for the people of Connecticut; to use his tremendous power to bring healing to the people of Connecticut. Now is the time to for boldness,” said Interfaith Fellowship co-chair Pastor Abraham Hernandez.

Rev. Josh Pawelek called on the governor and SustiNet Cabinet to do more to ensure health care for all. “Any serious health reform plan needs to include a state-sponsored public health care option. Such an option would increase consumer choice and access, control -and even reduce- health care costs,” he said. “Our Valentine’s Day wish? Take the public health care option seriously. It matters to Connecticut’s residents. Show us the love, Gov.!”

“This isn’t just a matter of politics and economics. This is a matter of deeply-held, spiritually grounded, faith-based conviction. As people of faith we are called by the Holy power in our lives to love our neighbors. We are called to work for the health and well-being of our fellow human beings – to be compassionate and caring. We are called, therefore, to work for a just health care system in our state and in our nation,” Pawelek said.


Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care Rally

On December 14th, 2010 the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care (IFUHC) brought together over 500 clergy, elected officials, community activists, union members, health care providers, small business owners, student, retirees, and people of diverse faith traditions to rally in support of a state-wide universal health care proposal called SustiNet. Standing on the alter of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Hartford, CCNE Board member and IFUHC co-chair Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim and his fellow IFUHC leaders presented sacred objects from their respective faiths to the newly elected Governor, in the hopes that these symbolic offerings would serve as a reminder of the moral imperative to make quality, affordable health care accessible to all residents of Connecticut.