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Souls2enroll: Black church and the ACA

11/10/2017, 7:41 p.m.
For all of this administration’s efforts to kill — as in “repeal and replace” — the Affordable Care Act, it ...

Julianne Malveaux

For all of this administration’s efforts to kill — as in “repeal and replace” — the Affordable Care Act, it is still the law of the land, and still available — and required.

However, since 45 and his team have declared it all but dead, they have shortened the enrollment period from three months to a mere six weeks — from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has drastically cut the budget for outreach. This time last year, there were television and radio announcements, billboards on buses and other reminders that people should enroll for health care if they don’t get health care from their job.

This administration hopes that, without outreach, people will not enroll for care so that they can then crow that people don’t want health care.

But some faith leaders have pledged to use their pulpits to remind their congregations to enroll in a health care plan. Dr. Barbara Williams Skinner, the first executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, an activist who melds faith with public policy and a spiritual adviser to many black leaders, has developed a toolkit for communities of faith to help them do the work that our government won’t in encouraging people to enroll in affordable health care.

The effort has a title, #SOULS TOENROLL, or #SOULS2 ENROLL, a Facebook Page, www.Facebook.com/FaithiPublicLife, a toolkit adopted from the government page, www.GetAmericaCovered.org, a campaign that will begin Sunday, Nov. 12, suggestions for faith leaders, a sample church bulletin announcement and social media tips. The faith community is being encouraged to treat health care enrollment like any other grassroots organizing campaign and get involved in it.

Back in the day before social media, we used to talk about “the drum” or the ways we shared information in the black community. Lots of our radio stations, or programs, were called “the drum” because they were our ways of sharing information. Now faith leaders are taking the drum viral to ensure that people who don’t get the word because of lack of government outreach will get it through churches and through the internet.

We will rely on these methods of communicating more and more as this administration attempts to contract — not expand — the information people need to get essential health care and other services. The toolkit and other resources are proof that our community has the ability to out organize the evil that is seeping out of Washington.

“Woke” members of Congress are working with Dr. Skinner and others to get the word out — Congressman Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., had a public service announcement posted on his website before the enrollment period opened. Other members of Congress also have posted information on their websites.

Once upon a time we could mobilize. Without any internet, 250,000 people managed to get to the nation’s capital for the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. Mimicking that effort, and using both word of mouth and the internet, more than a million women made it to Washington for the post-inaugural Women’s March in January. Now we have the opportunity to rally millions to participate in benefits of the Affordable Care Act.