If you haven’t seen it, let me draw your attention to this report from the Episcopal News Service. It refers to a telephone conference call with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on implementing the Affordable Care Act. She included in the conference call a number of religious leaders, including the Rt. Rev. Barry Howe, Bishop of West Missouri. Yes, as you read down you’ll see that he is my bishop, and that he because he is Bishop of West Missouri he also serves on the Board of the Saint Luke’s Health System, and is Chair of the Board of our central referral hospital. So, naturally, this would be important to me.
However, I also want to note that it has meaning for Episcopalians beyond West Missouri. Bishop Howe is also a member and past Chair of the Standing Commission on Health of the General Convention. So, in a real sense he was representative of the Episcopal Church, both as a bishop but also as a member of that Commission.
This is not the first time that the Obama team has reached out to the faith communities specifically about health care. During the last presidential campaign I participated in a conference call on the topic coordinated with the Obama campaign staff by PICO National Network (which was also represented on this call). Perhaps there is a sense here that the faith communities can collaborate with government in pursuing social welfare, instead of simply substitutes (and poorly funded substitutes at that!) for government programs.
So, take a look at the news story. The Episcopal Church has long had a commitment to universal access to health care. Now those in government who share that commitment want us informed and involved, too.