Health Care is Focus for Faith Groups

December 13, 2006

Author: Phil Haslanger

Source: The Capital Times

"Four people die each week in Wisconsin because of a lack of health care," Linda Ketcham told a gathering of local religious leaders considering the nation's health care crisis.

Ketcham, director of Madison-area Urban Ministry, was citing figures from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alice Howard, a minister who works in Madison's Allied Drive area, brought the statistic closer to home. Three people have died in their apartments there in the last three months, she said, because they lacked the health insurance or the financial resources to get care in the city's high-quality medical care system.

Madison-Area Urban Ministry is an interfaith social justice group supported by 98 local faith organizations that include Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian, Baha'i and other traditions. One of its primary issues for the coming year is health care.

"As the crisis grows, we wanted to ask: What's our call? Do we have a role to play?" explained Ketcham as she opened the discussion Tuesday at Christ Presbyterian Church. "We hope to build an interfaith advocacy effort."

This was good news to Dr. Gene Farley, a longtime proponent of universal health care. He summarized his view of the shortcomings in the way health care is paid for in this country in just a few words: "It's an obscene system."