Faithful Activism on Healthcare
President Obama's world travels have lately focused our attention on the many challenges the US faces on the world stage. When we have thought about domestic issues this past month or so, we have tended to think mostly about the economy. Credit is still tight; unemployment is going up; the housing market is still very weak. But there are other domestic issues that need our attention and activism: education, poverty, energy, the environment, to name a few. I want to draw our attention this week to healthcare.
Less than a month after taking office, Obama signed into law an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program,( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/04/schip-obama-signs-bill-on_n_163972.html) a joint state-federal healthcare policy insuring some 11 million poor children, including, for the first time, legal immigrants (yes, that's right, until now even the children of legal immigrants have not been offered coverage). In addition, there are healthcare provisions woven into Obama's stimulus package. Furthermore, Obama launched his legislative efforts to reform healthcare with a bipartisan White House Forum on Healthcare last month. Clearly, healthcare reform is one of Obama's top domestic priorities. Perhaps the most prominent and controversial part of his healthcare reform agenda (http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/health_care/) is to establish a public insurance program that would compete with private insurance policies. The GOP, though late with an alternative reform plan, is marshalling its forces to oppose such a plan. (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0409/21428.html) Fortunately, there has been some evidence of political momentum led by otherwise opposing healthcare groups in favor of other healthcare reform ideas, including expanding Medicaid, to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0409/21434.html)
One inter-faith healthcare group I want to recommend to you as you look for faith-based answers to your healthcare reform questions is Faithful Reform in Healthcare. (http://www.faithfulreform.org/) Its website is quite informative, offering biblical, theological, educational, policy, and activist resources to those who surf around in it. It also alerts viewers to events designed to help us think and act on healthcare reform.
As we prepare ourselves to pray about and act on the healthcare reform legislative process, let us seek out websites like this one to raise our level of knowledge even as we allow it to deepen our publicly-relevant faith.
Bret Kincaid is associate professor of political science at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA.