FAITH LEADERS Advocating for healthcare

For the past few months, faith leaders across the state have taken prophetic action against Congress' proposed healthcare legislation. Faith leaders are crucial in the fight to ensure that Tennessee's most vulnerable have access to healthcare.

“I do not understand solving our budget deficit on the backs of the poor, elderly and disabled. If these cuts to Medicaid are enacted, the need will still exist."

-Rev. Matt Steinhauer, Faith Lutheran Church of Lebanon, July 2017


Dear Tennessee Senators and Members of Congress:

As people of faith, we write to you about your efforts to reform the nation’s health care. We represent religious organizations, denominations, and faith traditions from across the spectrum. We are united in a shared commitment to prioritize low-income, sick, elderly, disabled, and vulnerable populations in the health care decisions before Congress. Our scriptures affirm our moral responsibility to ensure all may live with dignity and the opportunity to recognize their full potential. Access to affordable, quality health care should not and cannot be a privilege; it is a requirement rooted in faith to protect the life and dignity of every person.

A number of bills are pending that would radically change federal policy affecting our healthcare system. You will be called upon to take positions on these proposals. And because of the importance of the issue and the complexity of the nation’s health care problems, we expect that you will have to continue to grapple with health care during your tenure in office.

When voting on pending and future health care legislation, we respectfully ask you to support policies that:

  • preserve and enhance human life
  • promote equity
  • lessen the financial burdens on those who are poor or are of moderate means, and that
  • alleviate human suffering.

Unfortunately, pending legislation would have the opposite effects. Health care experts and trusted patient advocacy organizations have pointed to the destructive effects of the legislation and urged its rejection.  Proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections and reduce insurance subsidies will make health coverage unaffordable for millions who are of limited means or who have pre-existing health conditions. Many families will experience financial devastation and the loss of critically important health care.

Proposals to cap federal support for Medicaid will likewise cause massive loss of coverage and denials of care. Because Medicaid is our nation’s health care safety net, those affected will be the most vulnerable members of our community. Medicaid is the principal source of health care for pregnant women and their infants, for children, the frail elderly in nursing homes, and people suffering from mental illness and addiction. Medicaid funding is critical to services to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to care for children who are victims of neglect or exploitation. Medicaid serves more people with disabilities than any other health program in our country. If the federal government lessens its commitment to sustaining this vital safety net, millions will suffer needlessly. Many, medical research confirms, will die from preventable causes. Medicaid cuts will harm everyone, not just those who rely on the program for their health coverage, because Medicaid funding is essential for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care resources which serve the entire community.

We respectfully ask you to vote against legislation that has these effects, and to oppose any measure that:

  • causes people to lose coverage, or that makes effective coverage unaffordable
  • diminishes coverage or increases costs for people with medical or behavioral health conditions, or that
  • caps or cuts Medicaid.

Everyone is eventually touched by illness, and all families bear the financial burdens of health care. There is no truer test of our moral values as a nation than our willingness to ensure that all members of our community receive the care they need to relieve suffering and preserve life. We ask that your votes affecting access to health care be guided by the sacred duty we all have, and that is recognized by our faith traditions, to treat our neighbors justly and with compassion. We pray for you and our other leaders that you may have the discernment, courage and wisdom needed to protect the health and financial security of all Americans. Thank you for your public service.


  • TJC is looking for faith leaders to submit letters to the editor to their local media outlets.
  • TJC is looking for faith leaders to participate in ongoing media events throughout the year related to the healthcare fight.