Submitted by the former Board for Homeland Ministries, American Missionary Association, Health and Welfare Program
At its Eighteenth General Synod in 1991, the United Church of Christ voted a pronouncement and a priority with the goal to "enlist all members of the UCC and its constituent parts, in study and action so that they may be knowledgeable and empowered to work for the establishment of an affordable, accessible health care system for all persons residing in the United States." The UCC Health Care Task Force was formed in response to this pronouncement and priority. The Task Force was instrumental in publishing a working document titled Educating and Organizing Health Ministries, Volume 1: Toward An Accessible Universal Health Care. However, since 1991 and after the defeat of a national health care reform in 1994, the priority and empahsis of UCC health programming efforts has been on the development of Health Ministries within local UCC congregations. Nonetheless, health care continues to rank as a leading health issue for our country. And, there is growing public concern that the crisis in health care is deepening in our nation. This assault on affordable and accessible health care has reached beyond crisis proportions and is now a major epidemic in the United States.
The U.S. spends the most per capita on health care of any industrialized nation, and has the second highest infant mortality rate of these nations. Further, our citizens have the shortest life expectancy and are the least satisfied with their health care system.
Health care costs exceeded $1 trillion in a single year for the first time in 1996. It now accounts for 13.6% of the nation's economy.
In 1997 more than 2.5 million families spent 30% or more of their earnings on health care.
Currently over 43 million Americans are uninsured.
Over 31 million Americans have health insurance, but are under-insured. They are unable to afford premiums (even when employers offer coverage).
In 1996 over 11 million children were uninsured.
About 14% of people age 55-65 were uninsured in 1994.
The capping of total reimbursements to medicare providers makes it possible to withhold care from medicare beneficiaries with the greatest needs who are less profitable to serve.
States now have greater flexibility to force medicaid recipients into low-cost medicaid-only managed care plans with minimal federal oversight.
While the Portability Bill does prohibit private health insurers from imposing pre-existing condition exclusions beyond 12 months, it does not guarantee access to the same benefit or limiting the premiums that can be charged.
The Patients Bill of Rights was passed but is generally weak in that it still allows HMO's to make major medical decisions.
Managed Care (HMO's or MCO's) have all but replaced traditional fee-for-service plans and are now proving not to be any more cost-effective.
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have national health care.
We need a system that provides universal coverage. And, we need to actively advocate for such a system by insisting that Congress put universal health care back on the agenda in 2000.
The UCC Health Care Task Force was revised and met in Cleveland in November to prioritize health issues and to develop a health agenda. One of the top five priorities that emerged from this meeting was Universal Health Care Access. The goal is to organize, educate, equip and mobilize local congregations and the community for advocating for universal health care! This resolution calls upon the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, the Office for Church In Society, the Office for Communication, the Office of Church Life and Leadership, the United Church Board for World Ministries, The Council for Human Service Ministries, agencies of the United Church of Christ, individual churches, conferences and associations to REAFFIRM their commitment to health and universal health care as per the recommendation from General Synod Eighteen.
WHEREAS, we believe that health care is a basic right and not a privilege; and
WHEREAS, the gospels convey a message from God—a very powerful message that is the Church's marching order to meet the issue of affordable, accessible health care for all; and
WHEREAS, medical and health research have proven beyond question that poverty is the single strongest predictor of disease, disability and premature death, and that poverty is also the strongest predictor of blocked access to medical care; and
WHEREAS, an estimated 90 million people have little or no health insurance; and
WHEREAS, rationed care, loss of doctor choice, reduced quality of care and higher costs have now become the norm rather than the exception;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries calls upon conferences, associations, and local churches to awake and rise to this epidemic of health care injustice and abuse of the health care system; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries encourages local churches, conferences, associations, instrumentalities, organizations, health and welfare institutions associated with the UCC to once again join with the National Council of Churches and other denominations in the movement to raise the visibility of "Universal Health Care in the 2000 electoral season."
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries encourages local churches, conferences, associations, instrumentalities, organizations, and health and welfare institutions associated with the UCC to join in education and advocacy activities to advance legislation that support universal health care;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries RE-APPOINT The UCC Health Care Task Force to work in concert with the office of Church in Society (OCIS), the Office for Communication, the Office of Church Life and Leadership, UCC Health and Welfare Coordinating Council, the UCC Parish Nurse and Physician's Network and the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) to revisit this issue and to develop new action plans and strategies for empowering our local churches to work for the establishment of Health Care For All.