U2K Campaign: A Push for Universal Health Care

Perhaps the strongest effort toward health care reform is the Universal Health Care Action Network and its current U2K Campaign, "Universal Health Care in the Year 2000." U2K wants to make fundamental health care reform—defined as quality universal health care that is accessible, comprehensive, affordable, and publicly accountable—a key issue on the national political agenda during the 2000 elections and beyond.

Faith communities have been vital to U2K on a national and local level. The National Council of Churches serves as a founder, along with labor unions and advocates for the elderly. Religious groups ranging from Church Women United to the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK have joined the campaign. But Linda Walling, U2K’s faith-based coordinator, says, "This truly is a grassroots movement. More and more, local health care coalitions are finding out about us, and calling and saying ‘Hey, how can we join?’" Walling explains that faith groups who have never had the chance to work together are given the opportunity through U2K. "It’s a natural fit," she remarks. "There is no faith community that does not have the importance of health and healing as a part of its teaching."

Now, only a few months before the elections, faith groups working at the local, state, and national level are educating, networking, and moving forward to make health care reform into a pressing political issue. The time for reform seems to be approaching: public opinion polls reveal that health care ranks close to education as voters’ major concern, and even the current system’s disarray indicates a positive chance for real and lasting change. The sense of excitement is building as U2K planning meetings have twice the attendance expected and its list of endorsers grows weekly. And while U2K is not exclusively a faith-based movement, religious participation is essential. Walling states, "If faith communities got on board and got involved en masse, we’d truly make a difference. Change would be inevitable.

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