-Staff Writer-

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Several health care benefits took effect September 23, including a patients’ bill of rights that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions and allows young people to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 if necessary.

“This issue is really personal for me,” said Toby Serrano from Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, a member of the Metro Organizations for People in Denver, Colorado.

“My youngest daughter was born with a birth defect that’s caused her to have multiple surgeries. When I had to change jobs years ago, I couldn’t get her insured.It’s been a heartache for my family to have my child who needs coverage the most be denied. She’s 16 now, and I feel so much relief knowing that she can’t be denied any longer. Other families need to know about this!”


Supporters of health care reform are taking their show on the road to make sure more and more Americans know about the changes.

“We want to give a message of hope to our people,” said Rev. Rayfield Burns from the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.“People who have been suffering might find that their needs will be met with the new reforms going into effect.”

“If people don’t know about it, they might not get what they need. This week I’m making sure everyone in my congregation knows–that’s 700 families. And more pastors in our community are doing the same,” said Rev. Burns.

Faith leaders have been on the frontlines of the quest for affordable, accessible health care for all families, feeling firsthand the consequences of a broken health care system and leading the charge for a federal overhaul that put improved health care for Americans.

“Bring Health Reform Home” is their effort to share information on new health care benefits and protections with neighbors and communities.

Through health fairs, door-to-door outreach, sermons in congregations, press conferences and distribution of door-hangers, clergy and community organizing leaders in 17 cities nationwide, affiliated with PICO (People Improving Communities Through Organizing) National Network, plan to reach 95,000 Americans nationwide with good news about the new health care reform provisions.

“A member of my church passed away because he didn’t have access to the health care coverage that he needed,” said Rev. Heyward Wiggins of the Bible Tabernacle Church in Camden, N.J.

“That’s why the benefits that went into effect Sept. 23 are so important to get out to our families and neighbors.Camden Churches Organized for People is going door-to-door this week, aiming to reach 5,000 people in our communities, because we want to give people the gift of life and longevity. We want to give people the knowledge that they need about what’s available for them now. And it means something to our community to hear, ‘wow, this new health care law could help me.’ ”

Faith groups mobilizing in communities across the country include:

– New Orleans–Congregations affiliated with MICAH have organized over 300 community leaders that will begin spreading the message that the Affordable Care Act saves lives and will hang 10,000 door-hangers in the coming weeks. An additional 10,000 families will receive the word in worship services this coming weekend.

– Fresno, Calif.–Faith In Community leaders are co-hosting a community health fair to share the facts of health reform, which will reach 1,000 families.Clergy will kick off the health fair with a press conference to spread the word throughout the city.

– Denver, Colo.–Metro Organizations for People, the local PICO federation, will knock on 6,000 doors in the next few weeks and hold an event with Sen. Michael Bennet and representatives from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Related news:

Bridging the gap in health care coverage for children (FCN, 06-27-2010)

Health insurance a matter of life and death: study (FCN, 04-23-2008)