Obama administration using faith-based groups to rally support, spread health care information

ppobama080509 President Barack Obama

President Obama and administration officials are rallying religious leaders to “spread the word” on new health care legislation to reinforce public support and to raise awareness about the effects of new insurance reforms.

In a Tuesday conference call, President Obama told various religious leaders, “Get out there and spread the word.”

“This is something that we’ll be able to look back on, just like we do on Medicare and Social Security, as a cornerstone that improves the security of millions of Americans,” the president commented, saying the changes lower costs at the government level and for families and businesses.

President Obama told faith leaders to treat the new law as settled fact and to use their influence to convey that message to congregants, Politico reports.

“The debate in Washington is over, the Affordable Care Act is now law ... I think all of you can be really important validators and trusted resources for friends and neighbors, to help explain what’s now available to them,” President Obama continued.

Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Partnerships, told call participants to use the resources described in the call, including a website, door hangers and single-page information sheets.

“We’ve got work to do,” commented DuBois, who also explained the “Patients’ Bill of Rights” to be implemented on Thursday.

The organization People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) is reportedly planning to distribute 50,000 door hangers in lower-income communities within the next two weeks. PICO regularly meets with the administration and last week participated in an HHS-run call for faith-based groups.

Participants in the conference call with President Obama included National Council of Churches president Peg Chemberlin. She told Politico that there has been some discussion about “the best way” to publicize information on the health care law.

An administration official told Politico that the administration believes community- and faith-based groups can help government action on health care.

"They are reaching people every day in churches, synagogues, mosques, and secular organizations. They can spread the word about these things," the official said.

Other Obama administration participants in the Tuesday conference call were Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, White House Office of Health Reform director Nancy-Ann DeParle, and Assistant to the President for Special Products Stephanie Cutter.

The Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based and Community Partnerships organized the conference call. The director of the center is Alexia Kelley, a co-founder of the Democratic-leaning group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG).

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and many other religious pro-life advocates opposed the 2010 health care legislation on the grounds that it provided inadequate restrictions on abortion funding.

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