Health-care bill’s passage called ‘huge step’

Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., thanked the 350 organizations, including The United Methodist Church, that worked to achieve historic health-insurance reform.

The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society chief executive said the U.S. House of Representatives took a “huge step” toward affirming the denomination’s Social Principles when it passed health-insurance reform legislation on March 21.

Jim Winkler, chief executive of the General Board of Church & Society, said the House action affirms the United Methodist Social Principles that declares health care is “a basic human right.”

The House passed the U.S. Senate version of health insurance reform legislation by a vote of 219 to 212. That bill now goes to President Obama for his signature into law. A second bill, to improve the Senate legislation, passed by a vote of 220 to 211 and goes to the Senate for approval.

“For decades, the General Board of Church & Society has worked alongside thousands of United Methodists to achieve health care for all in the U.S.,” Winkler said. “This vote brings us closer to that reality.”

#3201 in the United Methodist Book of Resolutions charges the General Board of Church & Society with primary responsibility for advocating health care for all in the United States. The resolution was approved by the 2008 General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body. (Resolution #3201 can be downloaded from the General Board of Church & Society website by clicking on the following: “Health Care for All in the United States.”)

Winkler pointed out that when the bill is signed into law important protections for every person will be enacted. These include banning health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and more Americans will have access to health insurance.

“Over 31 million Americans are currently uninsured,” Winkler said. “This legislation will assist low-income working people who cannot afford the steep prices for health insurance now.”

Winkler said Jesus’ ministry serves as an example and a call to serve the least and the last in society. Jesus asked us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, Winkler noted, “setting forth a faith grounded in God’s abundance, generosity and a capacity for love that knows no bounds.”

During her remarks prior to the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., thanked the 350 organizations, including The United Methodist Church, that worked to achieve historic health-insurance reform:

That is why we’re proud and also humbled today to act with the support of millions of Americans who recognize the urgency of passing health-care reform. And more than 350 organizations, representing Americans of every age, every background, every part of the country, who have endorsed this legislation.

Our coalition ranges from the AARP, who said that our legislation “improves efforts to crack down on fraud and waste in Medicare, strengthening Medicare for today’s seniors and future generations.” I repeat: “Improves efforts to crack down on fraud and waste in Medicare, strengthening the program for today’s and future generations of seniors.” To the American Medical Assn., the Catholic Health Assn., The United Methodist Church and Voices of America’s Children. From A to Z, they are sending a clear message to members of Congress: Say yes to health-care reform.

Winkler said he appreciated Speaker Pelosi’s comments about the hard work that The United Methodist Church has done in helping secure passage of health-care reform for all people. He pointed out that the denomination’s General Conference has been advocating for reform since 1980.

The United Methodist Church was not alone among faith communities in working for health-care reform, according to Winkler. He said that more than 150 other faith organizations also sought change, working through coalitions such as Faithful Reform in Health Care.

The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education and Leadership Formation, United Nations and International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center at the United Nations.


The text of Winkler’s statement follows:

Health-care reform legislation passes House of Representatives

The United Methodist Social Principles declares health care is “a basic human right.”

The United States took a huge step toward affirming this right last night when the House of Representatives passed health insurance reform legislation. The bill now goes to the President for his signature into law. A second bill was adopted by a vote of 220 to 211 and now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

I appreciate that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi thanked The United Methodist Church for the support our denomination has given to health-care reform. For decades, the General Board of Church & Society has worked alongside thousands of United Methodists to achieve health care for all in the U.S.; this vote brings us closer to that reality. When signed into law there will be important protections for every person including banning health-insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Health-care reform will ensure that more Americans have access to health insurance. Over 31 million Americans are currently uninsured; this legislation will assist low income working people who cannot afford the steep prices for health insurance now.

Jesus’ ministry serves as an example and a call to serve the least and the last among us. He asked us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves — setting forth a faith grounded in God’s abundance, generosity and a capacity for love that knows no bounds.

We are not finished. There is more work to be done in the weeks, months and years ahead to fulfill the need for health care around the globe.

—Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society, Washington, D.C., March 21, 2010

United Methodist Resolution #3201, which was approved by the 2008 General Conference, can be downloaded from the General Board of Church & Society website by clicking on the following: “Health Care for All in the United States.”

Votes by United Methodists
in House of Representatives

YES:

Vic Snyder (D), Ark.
Doris Matsui (D), Cali.
Laura Richardson (D), Cali.
Allen Boyd (D), Fla.
Suzanne Kosmas (D), Fla.
Baron Hill (D), Ind.
David Loebsack (D), Iowa
Dutch Ruppersberger (D), Md.
Mark Schauer (D), Mich.
Bennie Thompson (D), Miss.
Russ Carnahan (D), Mo.
Emanuel Cleaver II (D), Mo.
Betty Sutton (D), Ohio
Bart Gordon (D), Tenn.
Lloyd Doggett (D), Texas
Gene Green (D), Texas
Solomon Ortiz (D), Texas
Rick Larsen (D), Wash.

NO:

Marion Berry (D), Ark.
Mike Ross (D), Ark.
Mike Coffman (R), Colo.
Jeff Miller (R), Fla.
Bill Posey (R), Fla.
Bill Young (R), Fla.
Steve Buyer (R), Ind.
Lynn Jenkins (R), Kan.
Jerry Moran (R), Kan.
Ed Whitfield (R), Ky.
Mike Rogers (R), Mich.
John Kline (R), Minn.
Lee Terry (R), Neb.
Steven LaTourette (R), Ohio
Dan Boren (D), Okla.
Tom Cole (R), Okla.
Phil Roe (R), Tenn.
Joe Barton (R), Texas
John Culberson (R), Texas
Chet Edwards (D), Texas
Kay Granger (R), Texas
Ralph Hall (R), Texas
Sam Johnson (R), Texas
Pete Olson (R), Texas
Pete Sessions (R), Texas
Rick Boucher (D), Virginia