Interfaith witness urges the President and Congress to protect Medicaid and Medicare

Chicago, IL – The Campaign for Better Health Care was one of nearly 60 interfaith organizations signing a statement sent today that emphatically urges the Obama administration and Congress to protect Medicaid and Medicare in their budget and debt-ceiling negotiations.  The statement, which has been endorsed by faith leaders representing millions of Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Unitarians, Muslims and Buddhists, emphasizes that the two programs provide critical health-care for the most vulnerable in U.S. society. 
Medicaid provides comprehensive health coverage to low-income persons, the elderly and people with disabilities. It ranges from paying for nearly 40% of births to funding long-term care of seven out of 10 nursing-home residents.  Medicare is the primary source of health insurance for the nation’s seniors.
“Health for everyone is at the heart of our religious traditions. It’s a belief we share in common.  As American people of faith, therefore, we have not just the opportunity but also the obligation to tell our political leaders that they have a moral mandate to protect those who need health care,” said Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield, Chair of Campaign for Better Health Care’s Faith Caucus and Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago.  “We must tell them that Medicaid and Medicare cannot be sacrificed for political expediency but must be saved as a matter of moral integrity.”
Endorsers of the statement, representing both national and state faith organizations, affirm that Medicaid and Medicare “help fulfill our moral obligation” to the most vulnerable members of society:  low-income children, women, and men; low-income working families, persons with disabilities; and senior adults. The faith groups, citing a vision for health, wholeness and human dignity for all, outlined “shared” principles they urge elected officials to consider in their deliberations.
  • All individuals deserve equal access to quality, affordable, inclusive and accountable health care.
  • The social safety net and its key components, including health care, must be maintained to reflect our shared commitment to protecting vulnerable populations.
  • Concern for the most vulnerable in our community, particularly low-income women, men and children and people with disabilities, is at the heart of our sacred texts and an affirmation of our common humanity.
  • Caring for our elders and treating them with dignity demonstrates the value we place on our enduring responsibility to enable all persons to live out the fullness of their days.
This statement, coordinated by the Faithful Reform in Health Care coalition and the Washington Offices of national faith groups, will serve as the guiding principles through which the Campaign for Better Health Care can measure legislative proposals that impact Medicaid and Medicare now and in the future.  Illinois organizations wishing to sign on can do so on the CBHC website at
Three concurrent grassroots actions are supporting the release of this statement and urge the President and Members of Congress to protect Medicaid and Medicare:  call-in days using a toll-free number funded by member organizations; a campaign to add local organizations and individual signers to the statement; and on-going email campaigns among many of the member organizations.  Already, Senators in 49 states and over half of the U.S. House of Representatives have received personal contacts from their constituents.
Speaking of this effort, Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Faithful Reform in Health Care said:  “It is increasingly clear that the current debate in Washington is not just about the federal budget and debt ceiling.  It is a clash of ideologies between those who believe that the federal government has a role in protecting the common good and those who believe we’re all on our own.  The faith community has a critical role to play in protecting these life-saving crucial safety net programs and raising the moral voice in support of vulnerable persons whose voices are not being heard.
About the Campaign for Better Health Care
We believe that accessible, affordable, quality health care is a basic human right for ALL people.  The Campaign for Better Health Care the state’s largest coalition representing over 300 diverse organizations, organizing to help create and advocate for an accessible, quality health care system for all.  For more information, visit

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