Christine Stuart photo

Their first attempt to meet face-to-face with Gov. M. Jodi Rell a month ago was unsuccessful, so religious leaders and about 150 supporters of the Universal Health Care Foundation’s Sustinet proposal marched to the Capitol Thursday and delivered a second request.

The coalition of religious leaders said it declined Rell’s previous offer to meet with the Deputy Commissioner of Public Health because “this person is not an elected official and is not endowed with the power to lead the State of Connecticut out of its health care crisis.”

Following a march and a rally at the state Capitol, Rev. Joshua Pawelek, Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, and Rev. Bonita Grubbs hand delivered the second request for a meeting to Adam Liegeot, one of Rell’s spokesmen.

Liegeot assured the religious leaders that he would deliver the letter to the governor and let her know about their concerns. Rell was in Manchester holding a press conference on the consolidation of the state’s economic development agencies during the afternoon rally for health care.

Prior to delivering the letter Thursday, Rabbi Fuchs said the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care would continue to pursue a meeting with Rell until it happens.

“There are those who say such initiatives are untenable at this time because of the precarious state of our economy,” he said. “We say that such initiatives are absolutely necessary because of an economy such as this.”

“I know we have an economic crisis, but this is not about the money,” Rev. Bonita Grubbs from Christian Community Action in New Haven said. “This is about the principle. We want to build on the structure so that universal health care can come in a few years.”

The Sustinet proposal would be rolled out over five years with the cost of the proposal beginning in 2011. Proponents are calling it a comprehensive solution to the health care crisis because it calls for improvement to the delivery of health care, as well as a creative way of financing it.

Rev. Emilio Hernandez of the Christian Coalition for Social Change said Rell took time to travel to North Branford and celebrate a 105 year old woman’s birthday this week.

“We are here to celebrate because we finally have a plan,” he said referring to the Sustinet proposal. He said that plan would help many receive the health care they need to make it to their 100th birthday.

“If you don’t have time to meet with your people, then you don’t have time to lead them,” Hernandez said.

During the unscheduled visit to Rell’s office Thursday clergy read from “Voices of Healing,” a compilation of reflections by members of the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care. 

Click here to download the publication.