In January clergy from all different religions and ethnicities gathered at the state Capitol to call for the legislature and the governor to support some form of universal health care. On Tuesday they were back to remind state lawmakers that health care should continue to be a top priority this year.
Rev. Edwin Ayala (pictured) said since January the clergy have been busy organizing their congregations and identifying those who can vote and asking them to call their legislators to urge them to act on a health care proposal. He said as religious leaders it isn’t their responsiblity to support one proposal over another, but it’s their responsibility to see justice is done. And access to health care is a matter of justice, Ayala said.
To show their support for a universal health care proposal religious leaders hand-delivered a petition signed by more than 500 clergy to top lawmakers, including the governor, Senate president and Speaker of the House. In addition, to the signatures the group delivered a light bulb in a clear container, which acted as a symbol to “enlighten” legislators on the issue of health care.
Juan A. Figueroa, president of the Universal Health Care Foundation, said Tuesday that there’s enough room on the political agenda for both universal health care and education.
“It’s a question of political courage,” he said. “Education is important, but so is health care.”
While Gov. M. Jodi Rell has put increased spending on education at the top of her agenda, Democrats have found enough money to do both education and health care.
The Democratic spending package includes $300 million in new spending on health care by increasing the reimbursements doctors receive from treating Medicaid patients.
Figueroa said it’s a good start, but the state needs to do more. He said he can’t remember an issue that 500 clergy men and women would stake their names and reputations on.
Ayala said the clergy have reached out to their congregations and will be bringing more than 10,000 residents to the Capitol May 5 for a health care rally to demonstrate the urgency and importance of the issue.