What are the health care ministries at St. Michael’s?
The first is a vibrant group of folks from the Misa who are involved with the Promotores de Salud de la Iglesia (Parish Health Promoter Program) that in Portland is a component of Providence Health & Services’ outreach and education program. The volunteers in our church are working to build a healthier community through health promotion and leadership training. They are sponsoring events here on September 23 and October 13, so stay tuned for more information.
The second is a health-care reform effort. In 2015, St. Michael’s became a member of Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO), a coalition of over 120 churches, non-profits, unions, political parties and other organizations working to establish an equitable, affordable, comprehensive, high-quality, publicly funded universal health care system serving everyone in Oregon and the United States.
Why did St. Michael’s become a member of HCAO?
From a practical standpoint, because the United States is the only major industrialized country in the world that does not provide health care to all of its citizens, and because the experience of these countries and multiple U.S. studies on the subject have shown that such a system can provide better care for more people at less cost.
And from a faith perspective, because the Episcopal Church nationally resolved in Resolution 2009 D048 at the 76th Convention as follows:
“Resolved, That the 76th Convention of The Episcopal Church urge passage of federal legislation establishing a “single payer” universal health care program which would provide health care coverage for all of the people of the United States; and be it further…
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church shall work with other people of good will to finally and concretely realize the goal of universal health care coverage… “;
We joined because Jesus was a healer and sent out his disciples to heal. He taught that we, his followers, have a moral responsibility to care for all our human brothers and sisters, and especially the poor and others who don’t have the resources or ability to fully care for themselves; and we joined because, through our baptismal covenants, we are solemnly bound to seek and serve Christ in all people, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being (BCP pp. 305).
What has St. Michael’s done to advance the goal of universal healthcare?
Beginning in 2014, we offered Forums, films and other information to our and other congregations and to several Convocations and sponsored Sunday Brunches. Last year, the St. Michael’s HCAO leadership team drafted a Resolution that was co-sponsored by the Diocesan Commission on Poverty and Homelessness; Metro East, Southern, Central and Columbia Convocations; and Good Samaritan Episcopal and our own parish. The resolution passed nearly unanimously at the 2017 Oregon Diocesan Convention.
Briefly, the resolution urged passage of a state law to establish a universal health care system that would provide health care coverage for all people working or residing in Oregon (“Universal Health Care”), and provided that the Diocese become an organizational member of HCAO. It called for the creation of a Health Care Task Force to educate, study, provide review and gather input from the people and congregations of the Diocese; to become parish members of HCAO; and to advocate for the passage of legislative and initiative proposals to create Universal Health Care in Oregon.
This year, we again urged Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) to become a member of HCAO, and they did so.
What are the tasks before us?
We will be supporting the task force by making educational presentations to churches in the Diocese. If a law is put before the citizens of Oregon in 2020, it will be critical for voters to be well-informed about the issues. Many of us are alarmed by the efforts being made by the federal government to slash funding for health care programs and Social Security. Approximately 20 states are promoting state plans such as ours to provide access to health care to all of their people.
How can you get involved?
EDUCATE YOURSELF on the issues by coming to health-care forums and other community events and by visiting hcao.org and peruse the many sources of information under the “LEARN” tab. The next Forum will be October 14 at 10:10 am.
BECOME A MEMBER. An individual membership is $30 per year, but you can also become a sustaining member –even at $10 per month, that would be a huge help. When a measure is on the ballot, we will need funds to counter the millions of dollars that insurance and pharmaceutical companies will spend in Oregon to defeat it.
SIGN a Faith Statement of Support if you haven’t already. You can do that on the HCAO website under the “ACT” tab, in the list under Print Resources, or at the Forum on October 14.
VOLUNTEER by signing up on the HCAO website or by joining the St. Michael’s HCAO Leadership Team. We meet during the day one Monday a month. Contact Jana Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in either joining the team or by helping with its work but are unable to attend a monthly meeting.