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Rhoades: Faith Groups Raise Ethics Issues In Health Care Debate

May 22, 2000, WASHINGTON, D.C. - Faith-based organizations including the National Council of Churches have brought an important ethical and moral sense to the health care debate, Dr. Margaret Rhoades said today in a presentation to the NCC's Executive Board, meeting here May 22-23. 

Dr. Rhoades is Executive Director of the National Coalition on Health Care, the nation's largest and most broadly representative alliance working to improve America's health care.  The coalition's 90 member groups embrace or employ a total of some 100 million Americans. 

Dr. Rhoades said the participation of faith-based organizations, including the NCC, Roman Catholic and Jewish partners, "have brought to the table a new sense of the ethical and moral dimensions of the health care crisis.  It's simply intolerable that in the most prosperous nation and time our health care problems grow worse.  They are interrelated, and there is no way they can self-correct.   

"45 million in America, 11 million of them children, are uninsured," she said.  "We expect  an additional 750,000 will become uninsured this year.  Costs are growing without any restraint.  We work to help people understand problems in coverage, cost, quality, we look to you to spread word about how deeply serious these problems are and how they need to be addressed."  The Coalition is working to raise health care issues in this year's campaign, then encourage helpful legislation early in 2001. 

Dr. Rhoades said the Coalition is looking to launch a Faith and Health Care Initiative modeled on the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.  "We can be a convener, provide the research, be a fund-raiser and through the NCC and other religious organizations the word can be spread about the critical ethical dimension," she said.  "I'd like a 55-year-old union person to hear the same message from his or her union, employer, AARP and the church."   

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