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faith leaders' call for child health plan
Washington, D.C., June 12, 2007 – The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) is among more than 20 faith groups pressing for health insurance coverage for many of the nine million uninsured children in America.
Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Episcopal, Evangelical and Orthodox leaders sent a letter to Senator Max Baucus, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, urging them to produce the $50 billion needed in legislation to expand the successful State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
"The faith community worked hard to win $50 billion in new funding in the budget resolution. We expect Congressional leaders to use these funds to reach millions of uninsured children in our nation," said the Rev. John Bauman, S.J., executive director of PICO National Network.
The letter, signed by the religious leaders, asks Baucus and Reid to keep their commitment to spend $50 billion over five years to cover as many as six million uninsured children. The letter from faith groups representing 50 million Americans comes during intense closed door negotiations over SCHIP in the Senate. National clergy leaders are making personal appeals to key senators during a week of intense advocacy for children.
PICO National Network and the NCC have generated 9,000 letters to key senators over the past week and organized SCHIP clergy coalitions in key states such Indiana, Kansas and Missouri.
"We want Congressional leaders to understand that people of faith see covering children as our highest legislative priority this year," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the NCC. "In our Christian tradition we follow a Jesus who said, 'Let the little children come to me...'(Luke 18:16). The most vulnerable were priorities for Jesus. Today, our uninsured children are among the most vulnerable."
In addition to Edgar, leaders in ten NCC member communions signed on to the letter. They are: Rev. Michael Livingston, executive director of the International Council of Community Churches (and NCC President); Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (and NCC President-elect); Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president, United Church of Christ; Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop, The Episcopal Church.
Also, Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; James Winkler, general secretary, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church; Rev. A. Roy Medley, general secretary, American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A..
Also Rev. Dr. William J. Shaw, national president, National Baptist Convention, U.S.A.; Bishop John Richard Bryant, presiding bishop, 5th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church; the Rev. O.C. Edwards, Jr. (Episcopal Church), executive committee and co-chair, NCC's Faith and Order Commission; M. Garlinda Burton, general secretary, General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, United Methodist Church; and Virginia R. Holmstrom, executive director, American Baptist Women's Ministries.
NCC News contact: Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, NCCnews@ncccusa.org
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