Black clergy push ‘Obamacare’ enrollment as glitches get fixed

MSR Editorial








By Hazel Trice Edney

Guest Commentator


A team of African American preachers has sent a letter to President Barack Obama affirming their ”commitment to the Affordable Care Act” even as the president has ordered the website overhauled.

”We believe that access to quality health care is a fundamental civil and human right in America. Historically, over seven million African-Americans have been uninsured and denied access to care with devastating consequences. The Affordable Care Act provides African-Americans, along with Americans of all nationalities, access to desperately needed quality health care,” states the letter, signed by 14 Black preachers, all of whom lead major clerical or civic organizations. Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner and Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian are among 14 leading Black preachers who sent a letter to the President this week assuring they will organize and push to get African Americans signed up for the Affordable Care Act. The three-page letter was released to the media Monday evening.

The letter was released only hours after President Obama held a Rose Garden press conference deploring the embarrassing glitches that have slowed enrollment on the website,, while praising the benefits of the new plans for those who have successfully enrolled.

”…The problem has been that the website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. And there’s no sugarcoating it,” Obama said. ”The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by that than I am — precisely because the product is good.”

For anyone experiencing problems or needing answers to questions, he announced the toll free number, 1-800-318-2596, for help. The president has also embraced the Republican-invented nickname for the Affordable Care Act. In a video, distributed by mass email, he has appealed for people to ”Join Team Obamacare.”

Meanwhile, amidst escalated criticism of the plan — mainly by Republicans — the pastors and their associates bolstered their support.

”We, leaders of predominantly African American denominations and other faith leaders, who lead millions of African American people of faith, believe that our devotion to God requires us to be actively involved in promoting the well-being of all people,” states the letter. ”In some cases, we can best accomplish that objective by executing clearly defined, focused collaborative efforts amongst denominations and other faith based groups. We believe in those cases we can accomplish more together than we can separately. The issue of providing all Americans with access to quality health care is one of those issues.”

They appealed for other pastors to sign onto the letter and the commitment.


Hazel Trice Edney is president and CEO of Trice Edney Communications and editor-in-chief of Trice Edney News Wire.