Louisiana religious leaders yesterday called on the federal government to do more to rebuild the Gulf Coast and to do more to address poverty. The AP reports:
Louisiana religious leaders said Monday they want the federal government to develop a comprehensive family recovery plan for victims of Hurricane Katrina, but not without input from New Orleans' displaced families.
"We don't want to be just the recipients," said Father Michael Jacques, pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in New Orleans. "We want to participate."
Nearly a dozen religious leaders from New Orleans and other Louisiana cities traveled to Washington to join a previously scheduled news conference by a national grassroots religious group protesting President Bush's proposed $10 billion cut in Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for low-income Americans….
Allen Stevens, administrator of St. Phillip the Apostle Catholic Church in New Orleans, said he's received countless calls since the storm parishioners asking, "What do I do? I'm in a hotel I have two days left. I'm out of money. I can't go back home. What's the future of my family, my daughter, myself?"
Jacques said the family recovery plan should provide for debt relief and mortgage reduction help, decent housing that's not in temporary shelters but is near grocery stores and schools, jobs and job training, counseling and schooling for children.
"We need help," said the Rev. Steve Beckstrom of the Little Rock Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. "We need to be able to look beyond the bureaucracy and be moved with compassion and realize this isn't a Louisiana and Mississippi thing, this isn't a Baton Rouge or Lafayette thing. This is a national thing. We need to throw our arms around each other."
Paula Arceneaux, chair of New Orleans All Congregations Together, said the hurricane exposed the federal government's failure to provide a safety net for poor Americans. And the proposed cuts in Medicaid, she said, will worsen that problem.
"Now is not the time to cut low-income children and families from health care," she said.
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Is anyone surprised the Bush Administration is proposing even more reductions in Medicaid during a time of increasing poverty levels and national crisis?
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