[Editor's note: the following guest post is by Dr. Faisal Qazi]
About 140,000 people attended the conference call on August 19, 2009 with President Obama coordinated by the Faith in Public Life and sponsored by over 30 religious denominations and organizations as coalition of the Faithful Reform in Healthcare. The event seemed to draw an unexpected number of attendees and is a clear reflection of the immediate concern and priority of the American people, i.e. the healthcare system.
The introductory comments informed of the drive for health reform by faith communities followed by prayers from religious leaders, commentaries from clergy, and personal stories from concerned citizens. Each of the strories focused on why it is vital to get a better system for health delivery as many citizens are left out due to insurance clauses of pre existing condition, loss of employment, and mostly due to unaffordable premiums.
The Muslim voice was represented by Dr. Yasir Shareef, a member of the American Muslim Health Professional’s (AMHP) Task Force on Health Affordability. Dr. Shareef has been avidly engaged in health reform advocacy, has also given presentations and seminars on the nature of this crisis and specifics of reform related issues. During the conference call he spoke of the stories of his patients that were denied the basic right of access to healthcare given the deep systemic flaws in our current system.
A question and answer session then followed where the Director of White House Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes stated that the main principle of reform was cost control with the explicit goal to decrease insurance premiums, and to avoid rescission of insurance policies.
On the question of the Public Option Plan, she indicated that the President felt it was the best option for now, although he was open to other suggestions.
President Obama began by thanking everyone on the call and how he appreciated the religious communities’ efforts for reform. He discussed the myths about “death panels”, abortion, and other anti-reform views. He further discussed the importance of insurance reform and how people would not be excluded due to their health status and that the basic provisions of care would be affordable to folks who currently have no insurance. He encouraged the participants to get out, “knock on doors”, and educate their friends, families, and neighbors with correct information and to beat the fear campaign by learning the truth. President Obama also indicated his full support of the Public Option plan.
The call then ended with a quick summary and thanks to all the participants. Faithful for health reform has a website where the pledge to support health reform may be signed everyone.
To learn further about specific reform issues and AMHP’s August Initiative, please visit: www.amhp.us
To listen to the recorded version of the call, visit: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/40mins4health (Both a streaming recording and an MP3 format)
To sign the pledge for Reform, list of today’s speakers and more info on Faith communities’ reform efforts, visit: www.faithfulreform.org
Dr. Qazi is a southern CA based Neurologist, currently serving as the President of American Muslim Health Professionals. He’s a guest columnist for the San Bernardino Sun’s health section.