Comprehensive Health Reform Needed Now: Faith Groups

Faith leaders around the nation made a final push for comprehensive health reform ahead of Thursday's summit, urging government officials to "take heart" and push legislation forward.

"We write to you at this critical juncture to urge you to complete the task at hand on behalf of the millions who are left out and left behind in our current healthcare system," read the letter from Faithful Reform in Health Care, an interfaith coalition of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish leaders.

Noting that America stands "closer than ever before to historic health care reform," the faith leaders warned officials that "turning back now could mean justice delayed for another generation and an unprecedented opportunity lost."

"We know that no comprehensive health care reform bill will be perfect….however, we also know – as providers and consumers of services and care – that inaction at this critical moment is no way forward," the letter says, which was posted on a full page advertisement in congressional newspaper The Hill.

"Let us not delay health care justice any longer," it concludes. "This is your moment for political courage, vision, leadership and faith. We urge you to take heart and move meaningful health care reform forward."

The letter was signed by over two dozen leaders including Dr. Ronald Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Actions; Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Sarah Weintraub, Executive Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America; Morna Murray, President of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC); and Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners.

Meanwhile, disagreements over where to start on health care negotiations have plagued Thursday's Summit.

Republican leaders have continued urging President Obama to "start over" on drafting a bill for health reform, saying that their views represent a large number of the American population.

"This is a car that can't be recalled and fixed and we ought to start over," Sen. Lamar Alexander from Tennessee said, according to AP.

Obama in turn said he didn't want to discuss "process" at the summit, but wanted to look for areas that the two parties could agree on, according to USA Today. The President conceded, however, that there may "too big a gulf."

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