PEACE members celebrate the opening of the Lakeland Primary Care Clinic.
In Polk County, FL, 120,000 people or 25 percent of the population are uninsured or underinsured. Recognizing that access to health care was a major issue in their community, congregations involved in Polk Ecumenical Action Council for Empowerment, or PEACE, an organization that receives funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), decided to take action. When it was announced that the already dwindling funds for healthcare for poor persons were slated to be cut entirely, PEACE joined with others to advocate for a referendum to institute a half cent sales tax which would be directed toward healthcare for poor persons. Although it was predicted to have little chance of passing, PEACE’s work led to support by 62 percent of voters, directing $26 million a year toward indigent healthcare.
But PEACE’s work was not finished. After monitoring the spending, PEACE realized that the money was reaching few people because it was being spent on high-cost specialty care instead of primary care. PEACE engaged in another advocacy campaign and won commitments from the county to open five new primary health clinics in areas of high need. Each clinic will serve up to 40,000 patients a year and will set fees on a sliding scale based on income. The first of the clinics opened in November 2007 and the second is scheduled to open in 2009.
- Catholic Social Teaching and Health Care
- Health Care Backgrounder
- Facts about the Uninsured
- Prayer and Liturgy Resources
- Sample Bulletin Quotes
- A Call to Action
In our Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right. Access to health care should not depend on where a person works, how much a family earns, or where a person lives. Instead, every person, created in the image and likeness of God, has a right to life and to those things necessary to sustain life, including affordable, quality health care. This teaching is rooted in the biblical call to heal the sick and to serve "the least of these," our concern for human life and dignity, and the principle of the common good. Unfortunately, tens of millions of Americans do not have health insurance. According to the Catholic bishops of the United States, the current health care system is in need of fundamental reform. To learn about Catholic teaching on health care in more detail, see:
- A Framework for Comprehensive Health Care Reform: A Resolution of the Catholic Bishops of the United States, June 18, 1993
- Read Bishop William Murphy’s May 2009 Statement to Congress about health care reform
The most recent Health Care Reform backgrounder, from February 2009, is available here.
- In 2007, forty-six million Americans were living without health care coverage.1
- Since the Census Bureau collected 2007 data, the unemployment rate has grown from 4.4 percent to 7.6 percent, resulting in 3.5 million new people who are now uninsured. An estimated 14,000 persons a day are now losing coverage as a result of the recession.2
- Sixty-four percent of the uninsured are employed full-time, year-round.3
- Nearly 20 percent of uninsured Americans, or 8.7 million persons, are children.4
- Ethnic minorities make up a disproportionate percentage of the uninsured population.5
- The poor are more likely to be uninsured. Thirty-four percent of non-elderly persons below the poverty line are uninsured, compared to 21 percent of non-elderly persons earning two to three times the poverty line.6
Sources: ,1, 3, 4, 5 U.S. Census Bureau, 2008; 2 Center for American Progress, 2009; 6 Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates from the March Current Population Survey, 2007 Supplement.
Prayer for the Uninsured
Father of goodness and love,
hear our prayers for the uninsured members of our community
and for all who are in need.
For those who seek care but find that it is out of reach,
may they find consolation in your healing presence.
For all who are blessed with health and security,
may they work to fulfill the needs of those who are sick and insecure.
For leaders who make decisions that affect the health and well-being of others, may they strive to ensure the fundamental right to health care.
We ask this through Christ our Lord
who healed those who believed.
Leader: Gracious God, we as health care leaders are on a journey of faith which will challenge us to choose for the good of all. The journey is one of spirit and truth and mission. We thank you, God, for your goodness and love. We believe your Son and powerful Spirit will share the journey with us, even to the end of time.
All: Lord, may we accept our challenges with enthusiasm and hope-filled expectations, for nothing is impossible in your midst. May we communicate freely and openly, and be understood as a people who share the healing mission of Jesus. Be with us that we might be faithful in proclaiming the truth in the choices we make. Amen
Almighty God, help us this day to direct our attention and concern to the poor, needy and sick in our local communities. Let us hear their hopes and their struggles. Help us to respond in an effort to restore their faith and their belief in their human dignity. May we find within ourselves the conviction to always put the powerless foremost in our minds and hearts. Let us so live that all who know us may know that you are a God who cares, when they experience our care and concern. Let us draw strength from each other as we share our talents for the good of the people we serve in all of our facilities- - We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Suggested Homily Points
These are provided in order to assist priests and parishes in encouraging continued attention on our response to the uninsured in our communities and in our nation.
April 26, 2009
Third Sunday of Easter B
Readings: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19; I John 2:1-5a, and Luke 24:35-48
- Acting out of ignorance can lead to disastrous actions. To be of help to our brothers and sister without health insurance, we need to become informed about the question. Once informed we can unite with others and take action in both the public and private sector.
- In 1 John we are told that Jesus is an “advocate.” This word comes from the Greek verb meaning to comfort, to call someone to one’s side as a helper or counselor, to speak on another’s behalf as would a defense attorney. As followers of Jesus in today’s world we are called to speak and act on behalf of those in need who have no one to intercede for them
- Jesus works with his disciples whose shattered hopes needed healing. He listened to their story, instructed them and led them to the discovery of the truth. In the breaking of the bread, He revealed His presence to them. There are many in our midst who need our willingness to walk with them and give them hope. In the measure we share the pain and sorrow of our brothers and sisters we will bring Christ’s presence to them.
May 3, 2009
Fourth Sunday of Easter B
Readings: Acts 4:8 – 12; 1 John 3:1-2, and John 10: 11-18
- St. Peter makes evident the saving power of Jesus Christ when he reaches out and brings healing to a crippled man. Essential to the Christian community’s mission of making Christ present in our world is a determined outreach to the sick, the poor, the heavily burdened and those in need.
- As children of God, we are called to see in all our brothers and sisters the presence of God. We share a deep solidarity with all men and women. The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World notes in paragraph 11: “The people of God believes that it is led by the Spirit of the Lord who fills the whole world. Moved by that faith, it tries to discern in the events, the needs, and the longings which it shares with the other men of our time, what may be genuine signs of the presence or purpose of God.”
- The Good Shepherd gives us the example of self-sacrificial service. Despite the many social challenges of our day and age, we can never give up reaching out to those in need. For the Good Shepherd every sheep was significant and important.
Suggested Petitions for the Prayer of the Faithful
As God’s children, we are aware of God’s unending compassion, care and concern and so we confidently pray:
That we may be the agents of God’s healing power to those most in need, we pray to the Lord.
For the uninsured, that they may be encouraged by your presence and given new hope by the love and care of their brothers and sisters in Christ, we pray to the Lord.
For the sick and suffering, that God may give then courage and strength to share the suffering of Christ, we pray to the Lord.
That as we strive to address the needs of the uninsured we may be moved by the compassion, love and concern of the Good Shepherd, we pray to the Lord.
For all engaged in health care, that they may be strengthened to always show mercy, compassion and love, we pray to the Lord.
God, our Father, you extend the Kingdom of Christ to embrace the world, bringing healing and redemption. May the Church be a powerful sign of your healing power, revealing your unending love for us in Christ, Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
“Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right. With an estimated 47 million Americans lacking health care coverage, it is also an urgent national priority. Reform of the nation’s health care system needs to be rooted in values that respect human dignity, protect human life, and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, especially born and unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations.”
U.S. Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, no. 80 (2007)
“Our approach to health care is shaped by a simple but fundamental principle: ‘Every person has a right to adequate health care. This right flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons, who are made in the image of God.’”
U.S. Catholic Bishops, A Framework for Comprehensive Health Care Reform: Protecting Human Life, Promoting Human Dignity, Pursuing the Common Good (1993)
MORE sample parish bulletin announcements on health care
- Join the efforts of a local group funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development that is working on health care reform. To find a CCHD-funded group in your area, contact your diocesan CCHD director. Some PICO-affiliated groups and others will be organizing “Faith and Health Care Sundays” throughout May 2009.
- Call your members of Congress (use the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to contact your Representative or Senators) and tell them health care reform should:
- Include health care coverage for all people from conception until natural death, and continue the federal ban on funding for abortions;
- Include access for all with a special concern for the poor;
- Pursue the common good and preserve pluralism, including freedom of conscience; and
- Restrain costs and apply costs equitably among payers.