Health care access a must

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A town’s churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are one of the best places to provide space, resources and yes, even bread for the members of our shared community looking for assistance. In many ways, “it is what we do.” That’s why so many faith leaders, including myself, have teamed up with Enroll America, a local nonprofit that works to help the uninsured find affordable coverage. Our coalition—which we call Pray for Pennsylvania—is made up of faith leaders from across the state who work across faith to help every Pennsylvanian get covered. Our numbers are constantly growing as we bring new faith leaders and new faiths in the effort for increased access to health coverage.

Along with providing space and bodies for these acts of kindness and generosity, Pray for Pennsylvania believes that we also are called to engage in acts of justice. History shows that faith communities are consistently on the lines laboring for policies that build a society that works for all of us.

Today, there is no greater cause than that of health care justice. So many of the world’s religions proclaim that health care is a right. Some faith leaders have been vocal and visible in working for increased access to health care for the thousands who remain without coverage. By leading our respective communities, having an open building, and sharing a concern for the health and well-being of our congregants and neighbors, each faith leader can and should provide access information regarding the Affordable Care Act and the health care coverage opportunities available to them.

Members of our congregations and the staff that clean our buildings, type our bulletins and teach at our daycares are the faces and stories of the uninsured that are searching for affordable health care coverage. It is unconscionable and unjust to know there is a program that could help someone and to fail to provide that information.

While some say that all politics are personal, I say put the people you know before your political leanings. Just like the band of beggars looking for bread, the faith community must make the information available and offer the opportunity for staff and volunteers from Enroll America to provide insight about health care coverage options through the Affordable Care Act.  It can be as simple as an announcement from the pulpit, a blurb in the bulletin, providing a classroom for enrollment, or making your worshippers aware of the opportunity. Doing those simple things could mean helping your congregants, staff and neighbors receive health care coverage.

It has been said that a majority of the work of clergy is to show up. Indeed, we are called to be in the places where there is a need, where folks are hurting or in crisis, where people are searching. The opportunity to get people health care coverage is before us. I ask the faith community for the opportunity for people from Enroll America to work with your congregation and show people where to find health care coverage.

(Rev. Eric McIntosh is the Pastor at St. James Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh.)

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