Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2252  |  E-mail news@ncccusa.org    |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home

NCC president urges speedy SCHIP passage

Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 2007 – The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) today joined several groups calling for Congress to quickly reauthorize SCHIP – the state children's health insurance program.

The Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the NCC and executive director of the International Council of Community Churches, urged Congress to quickly pass a conference bill "that covers as many children as possible" before funding ends for the current program on Sept. 30.

"Lack of access to affordable and quality health care has a profoundly negative impact on the quality of life for our children. It puts them at greater risk to have learning challenges, higher absenteeism and more serious illnesses from diseases that are preventable and treatable if caught in early stages," Livingston told a Capitol Hill news conference

Livingston said the SCHIP legislation is not just an economic, social, education or a moral issue, but it is also "a spiritual issue."

"Our scriptures teach us not to put our children or those living in poverty in harm's way. In the Gospel of Matthew (18:6) Jesus said: 'If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.'"

"Failure to reauthorize SCHIP," said Livingston, "or allowing a presidential veto is tantamount to placing stumbling blocks in the path of our children."

The House and Senate versions of the SCHIP funding legislation are currently in a conference committee.

The complete text of Livingston's statement:

Office of the President
National Council of Churches USA

Washington, D.C., September 18, 2007 – Good afternoon. My name is Rev. Michael Livingston and I am the president of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. We want to thank SEIU for organizing this press conference and for their continued efforts to make sure our children have access to health care. It also is an honor to be here along with Families USA, one of our ministry partners in this work to guarantee that affordable and quality health care is available to all people.  

The National Council of Churches USA is the ecumenical voice of 35 of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches.  These NCC member communions have 45 million members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states. 

I am here today to call upon the House and the Senate to reconcile the differences in the two versions of the state children’s health insurance program (SCHIP) bills so that the program will be reauthorized before it expires on Sept. 30 and funded at a level that moves our nation toward providing health care coverage for all of our children. We also urge members of Congress to push for the strongest possible conference bill—one that covers as many children as possible and provides the services that they need.  

Lack of access to affordable and quality health care has a profoundly negative impact on the quality of life for our children. It puts them at greater risk to have learning challenges, higher absenteeism and more serious illnesses from diseases that are preventable and treatable if caught in early stages. It also has a negative impact on the adults who care for them resulting in added stress and financial pressure.  

Our health impacts every aspect of our lives. Therefore, making sure that our children have proper health care coverage is not just an economic issue; it is a social issue, an education issue, a moral issue and a spiritual issue. It is imperative that the House and Senate act now before SCHIP expires and millions of our nation’s children are unnecessarily put in harm’s way.  

Our scriptures teach us not to put our children or those living in poverty in harm’s way. In the Gospel of Matthew 18:6 Jesus said: “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned  in the depth of the sea.” 

Congress has made a step in the right direction by passing legislation in the House and Senate that would provide coverage for the most vulnerable children in our society. It is now time to complete the work before Sept. 30. Failure to reauthorize SCHIP or allowing a presidential veto is tantamount to placing stumbling blocks in the path of our children. 

We have an opportunity now to do something about this and to send a strong message to the Administration to give us a victory, not a veto, for our children’s health.


NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, NCCnews@ncccusa.org


 

Return to NCC Home Page