Written by Connie Larkman
Don't put a period on health care.
Speaking on behalf of the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on March 26, the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo was among hundreds imploring the U.S. Supreme Court to support the Affordable Care Act enacted into law two years ago.
Jaramillo, executive minister of UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, spoke at a press conference during the conclusion of the four-day Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) for Global Peace with Justice in Washington, D.C. The gathering –– "Is This the Fast I Seek?" –– marked the EAD movement's 10th anniversary.
"The United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ believe that overturning the law would take away vital protections that Americans already have or are about to gain," said Jaramillo. "To those legislators who oppose this law, we would ask this question: 'What would you put in place to improve health care quality, expand coverage and curb the rise in health care costs?'"
As Jaramillo spoke, the Supreme Court began a planned three-day review of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act –– the most ambitious government health-care initiative since the Medicare and Medicaid programs of the 1960s. The law aims to rein in health-care costs and extend insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans.
Citing the familiar story of the Good Samaritan in Luke's Gospel, Jaramillo said, "The act makes a clear case for health care for all. Jesus reminds us of what it means to love our neighbor. It means we stop and assist in a caring manner that nurtures the neighbor back to health and wholeness. Those who would be caring neighbors cannot rest until proper care and services have been obtained for the ones in need."
Past policies and resolutions affirmed by the UCC General Synod and the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have called for affordable, quality health care for all.
The EAD movement asks that all Christians join together to seek a global economy and a national budget that break the yokes of injustice, poverty, hunger and unemployment throughout the world. Sponsored by the ecumenical Christian community, EAD is grounded in biblical witness and a shared tradition of justice, peace and integrity of creation.
"As people of faith, we urge you to defend people struggling to live in dignity by funding programs that protect vulnerable populations here and abroad," reads a statement on the EAD website. "We seek to enact a faithful federal budget that serves the common good, provides robust funding for people struggling to overcome poverty and exercises proper care of the earth."
The Rev. Bentley deBardelaben, minister of communications for the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, was part of a group that spent time during EAD's "Lobby Day" meeting with representatives from the offices of Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.
"We left feeling heard, geared up and ready to continue advocating for the least of these," said deBardelaben. "Having the opportunity to meet with those who have been elected to represent me is a part of what makes this democracy work."
Jaramillo, invoking the UCC's popular "God is still speaking" campaign, wrapped up her remarks succinctly:
"Let me conclude by saying to the Supreme Court, 'Don't put a period on health care.' God is still speaking. I implore you to uphold the Affordable Care Act, and let us all work together to continue to transform the health-care system so that it is inclusive, accessible and affordable for everyone."