Interfaith Leaders Inject Morality into Massachusetts Healthcare Debate

December 29, 2005

Source: The Boston Globe

On December 29, 2005 The Boston Globe reported, "Let the politicians and lobbyists argue about copayments and premiums. The Rev. Hurmon Hamilton and Rabbi Jonah Pesner are waging their fight to expand healthcare coverage on a different, higher plane... Hamilton and Pesner, of Temple Israel in Boston, are leaders of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which has used moral suasion to become an influential force in Beacon Hill's healthcare debate. Inside the velvet glove, though, is a real threat: If legislators don't pass a healthcare bill to their liking, the group and its allies will push a 2006 ballot measure that would force the state to cover everybody. Backers of the ballot effort have collected more than 112,000 signatures... The interfaith organization's greatest coup so far has been persuading House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi to endorse a so-called employer mandate that would require businesses to cover their workers or pay a tax. DiMasi predicts that the organization, which includes 65 religious congregations and community groups, will be 'a substantial influence on what will happen' as House and Senate negotiators work out a compromise between competing plans."