Advocates Call For CT To Move Forward With A Public Option

“Advocates Call For CT To Move Forward With A Public Option In Wake Of Decision”

by Christine Stuart | Jun 28, 2012 CT News Junkie

During a celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient and Affordable Care Act, religious leaders and health care advocates called on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to embrace a public option.

Iman Kashif Abdul-Karim of the Islamic Center of Greater Hartford called on Malloy, who “during his campaign proclaimed his intention to expand access to healthcare,” to “please stop wasting time and start doing the work he was elected to do.”

The crowd gathered at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Thursday afternoon cheered Adbul-Karim’s remarks.

Abdul-Karim and other advocates called on Malloy to go further than just implementing the Patient and Affordable Care Act. They called on him to create an “affordable public option” here in Connecticut.

On the campaign trail in 2009,  Malloy said he supported a public option, and he even stood side-by-side with religious leaders in calling for a public option just weeks before taking office. However, campaigning is different than governing and faced with a $3.6 billion budget deficit, Malloy backed off his support for a public option.

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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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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez calls on Latino faith leaders to Unite for Social Justice

“We need to hold those in power accountable. Look at that Governor and say, ‘we remember. We do not forget. You broke your promise to our community. You put 400,000 plus at risk.’ This is about saving lives!” -Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

One of America’s Most Influential Faith Leaders Calls on Latinos to Unite for Social Justice

On February 25, 220 Hispanic Religious leaders from across Connecticut gathered at the Omni Hotel in New Haven to hear Rev. Samuel Rodriguez speak about the need for Latinos to unite for social justice. The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care invited Rev. Rodriguez, an inspirational leader for the Hispanic Evangelical movement, to speak on issues that disproportionately affect their communities. Rev. Rodriguez called on the religious leaders in the room to take a more active stand in addressing issues such as economic disparities and health care for all.

As the leading spokesperson for Hispanic Evangelicals, Rev. Rodriguez has been a featured speaker in White House and Congressional meetings on Hispanic-American issues and justice concerns. He is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization with 30,621 member churches.

(U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, Juan Figueroa, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Rev. Dr. Moses Mercedes, and Rev. Abraham Hernandez. Photo courtesy of  Oscar Santa Cruz)

The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care – a multiracial, multicultural group of religious leaders of diverse faith traditions- hosted the event because it is imperative to meet the health care crisis.  400,000 individuals are left without insurance in CT, most of them people of color.

Rev. Abraham Hernandez, co-chair of the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, accepted Rev. Rodriguez’s call to action. “Why should thousands of our people be denied the care they need? Are we not also children of God? Do we deserve life…do we deserve health care any less than our wealthy brethren? By working for health care for all I am saying it is wrong -it is sinful– to treat people unequally when we are all equal in the eyes of God. It goes against our faith and it is destroying our communities,” Hernandez said.

As a faith leader, Bishop Manuel Caban says he is called to save more than just souls. “As Pastors we are called to save souls, but we are also called to save lives. Many people in my community do not have health care. They work two, sometimes three jobs to put food on the table, to provide for their children,” he said. “But they can’t afford to see a doctor. When someone gets sick we pray for them, we collect donations to pay their hospital bills, we give all we can as a church. But it is not always enough. That is why we must unite! We must call on our state’s leaders to remedy this cruel situation.”

“We believe together, we pray together. So why should we suffer alone, in silence? When we see unjust laws and immoral systems we must also come together,” stated Rev. Dr. Moses Mercedes of the Prince of Peace Church in Bridgeport. “When the immoral health care system subjects our people to higher rates of preventable illness, when medical debt keeps us from rising out of poverty, when our loved ones die because they can’t afford treatment -we MUST not suffer alone, in silence. We must take action –together!”


Uno de los líderes religiosos más influyentes de Estados Unidos hace un llamado a la comunidad latina para unirse por la justicia social

25 de febrero– 220 líderes religiosos hispanos provenientes de toda la extensión del estado de Connecticut se reunieron en el Omni Hotel para escuchar al Rev. Samuel Rodríguez hablar sobre la necesidad de que la comunidad latina se una por la justicia social. Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care invitó al Rev. Rodríguez, inspirador líder del movimiento Evangélico hispano, para que hablara sobre asuntos que afectan de manera desproporcionada a sus comunidades. El Rev. Rodríguez hizo un llamado a los líderes religiosos presentes a que adopten una postura más activa para tratar asuntos como las disparidades económicas y los servicios de salud para todas las personas.

Como el principal portavoz de Evangélicos hispanos, el Rev. Rodríguez ha sido un orador destacado en la Casa Blanca y en reuniones del Congreso con respecto a asuntos concernientes a la comunidad hispano-americana y cuestiones de justicia. Es Presidente de la Conferencia Nacional de Liderazgo Cristiano Hispano (National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference), la Asociación Evangélica Hispana (the Hispanic Evangelical Association), es decir, la mayor organización cristiana hispana de Estados Unidos, integrada por 30,621 iglesias.

(Rev. Samuel Rodriguez fires up the crowd. Photo courtesy of Oscar Santa Cruz)

Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, un grupo multirracial y multicultural de líderes religiosos con diversas tradiciones religiosas, organizó el evento porque es imperativo resolver la crisis de salud.  En CT, 400,000 personas no tienen seguro médico, la mayoría gente de color.

El Rev. Abraham Hernández, co-presidente del Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, aceptó el llamado a la acción del Rev. Rodríguez. “¿Por qué negar a miles de personas los servicios que necesitan? ¿Acaso no somos también hijos de Dios? ¿Acaso somos menos merecedores de la vida…o de los servicios de salud que nuestros hermanos adinerados? Al trabajar por los servicios de salud para todas las personas, estoy diciendo que está mal, que es un pecado, no tratar a todas las personas por igual cuando todos somos iguales ante los ojos de Dios. Esto va en contra de nuestra fe y está destruyendo a nuestras comunidades”, dijo Hernández.

Obispo Manuel Cabán dice que es llamado para salvar más que tan solo almas. “Como pastores somos llamados para salvar almas, pero también para salvar vidas. Muchas personas en mi comunidad no reciben servicios de salud. Trabajan dos y a veces tres trabajos, para poner comida en la mesa, para mantener a sus hijos”, dijo él. “Pero no pueden pagar por los servicios de un médico. Cuando alguien se enferma, rezamos por esa persona; recolectamos donaciones para pagar sus facturas hospitalarias; damos todo lo que podemos como iglesia. Pero no siempre es suficiente. ¡Por eso debemos unirnos! Debemos instar a los líderes de nuestro estado a que resuelvan esta cruel situación.”

“Si creemos juntos y oramos juntos, ¿por qué debemos sufrir solos, en silencio? Cuando vemos leyes injustas y sistemas inmorales, también debemos unirnos”, afirmó el Rev. Dr. Mosés Mercedes de la Iglesia Prince of Peace, en Bridgeport. “Cuando el sistema de salud inmoral sujeta a nuestra gente a tasas más altas de enfermedades evitables, cuando las deudas médicas nos impiden salir de la pobreza, cuando nuestros seres queridos mueren porque no pueden pagar por tratamiento médico, NO DEBEMOS sufrir solos, en silencio. ¡Debemos tomar acción, juntos!”

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.