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Health for All urges churches to help promote access to health insurance and care

By Deidre Jacobson

Health For All, a project linking Eastern Washington individuals and families to health-care services, wants to involve churches and faith-based organizations in health-care access ministries.

Some congregations offer parish nursing or preventive screening of blood pressure, but Ralph DeCristoforo, coordinator, believes they could also help screen members for eligibility and access to health-care resources.

“There is a tendency to overlook the problem of health-care access, because it is hidden,” he said.  “Pastors would be surprised how many people in their congregations are among the 100,000 uninsured people—10,000 of whom are children—eligible for state-sponsored coverage. Many others are underinsured and quietly in need.”

He suggests that congregations form health-care access teams to assist members and the community.   Health For All can train them on the eligibility for and access to programs, and on how to eliminate accessibility disparities in the health-care system.

“I long for a system, in which all children have access to affordable, appropriate services at the appropriate time.  I dream of a system that takes care of seniors and is not so confusing that health-care professionals cannot clearly explain how it works or why.  I pray for a system where people do not have to choose between health care and food,” Ralph said.

Health for All, which operates under the umbrella of Community-Minded Enterprises, has helped 48,000 people find affordable health care and more than 19,000 uninsured people become insured on state sponsored programs such as Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program and Basic Health plans.

Health-care and community-service providers refer uninsured people to Health For All. Staff screens them, helps them fill out applications and guides them through the system.

Ralph said grant funding for Health for All runs out Dec. 31. 

“We will provide assistance until we run out of funds, if that comes,” he said, hoping to find new sources to keep it going.

A recent analysis by the Morgan Leigh Group found that for every dollar Community-Minded Enterprises, formerly Health Improvement Partnership, has secured for Health For All, Eastern Washington hospitals have saved at least four dollars, he said.  

“Things have been financially tough for the health-care industry in Eastern Washington,” said Dan Baumgarten, executive director of Community-Minded Enterprises, “but without Health For All, they would be tougher.”

Dan has initiated a local campaign to reduce reliance on grants.  He is meeting with organizations, businesses and faith groups as part of the quest for resources.

For information, call (866) 444-3066 or email 

By Deidre Jacobson - Copyright © October 2005 - The Fig Tree