Faith leaders hail Senate HELP movement on health care as historical moment for American families
Washington, DC - Senator Chris Dodd introduced Senator Edward Kennedy's comprehensive health care reform legislation yesterday that would guarantee affordable health coverage to every American, an achievement that has eluded the United States for a century. Senator Kennedy's bill would assure that people who have coverage they like can keep it, while ending long-criticized insurance practices that exclude people due to pre-existing conditions and discriminate against them because they are sick.
"Since 1994 a quarter-million Americans have died unnecessarily for lack of access to affordable health coverage," said Rev. Heyward Wiggins, pastor of Camden Bible Tabernacle Church in Camden, New Jersey and PICO national spokesperson. "The real story here is the opportunity to save lives and improve the health of millions of Americans who cannot afford the care they need."
Faith leaders from PICO National Network hailed the the forward movement of legislation in the Senate HELP committee as a critical first step toward passing comprehensive health care reform legislation in the Senate by August 7.
"Making health coverage affordable to all families; letting people choose which health care plans work best for their families; ending discriminatory practices by insurance companies. These are American values that families and faith communities can get behind," said Rev. Rayfield Burns from Metropolitan Missionary Baptist, a member of PICO affiliate Communities Creating Opportunity in Kansas City, MO.
PICO praised Senator Kennedy for including a strong Affordability Standard in the H.E.L.P. legislation, including sliding-s cale subsidies based on income, expanding Medicaid up to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, subsidies for small businesses and a total cap on out-of-pocket expenses.
"We are delighted that Sen. Kennedy's health care bill addresses the struggles that many middle-class families face in paying the ever rising cost of premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses," said Rabbi Melanie Aron from Congregation Shir Hadash, a member of PICO affiliate People Acting in Community Together in San Jose, CA. "This will help many families in my congregation, especially young families and those struggling during this recession, to purchase quality health coverage."
Over the coming months, PICO will hold more than 150 events in religious congregations and local communities to build support for health care reform, and specifically for including a strong Affordability Standard in final legislation.
For more information, visit www.coverallfamilies.org