Not a member yet?Register now and get started.

lock and key

Sign in to your account.

Account Login

Issues & Victories

Health Care

GCC Launches COVID-19 Testing Campaign and Finds Major Pharmacies Redlining Access to Testing

Walgreens and Rite Aid offer testing at only one store each in the city of Cleveland while CVS offers none.

Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC), the largest community power organization in Northeast Ohio, has called out CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens on their failure to provide broader COVID-19 testing within the city of Cleveland.
GCC members visited their local neighborhood drugstores to assess the availability of COVID-19 testing within their communities. “We visited ten Rite-Aid stores in Greater Cleveland and discovered it is offering only one testing site within the city of Cleveland while offering several testing sites in suburbs surrounding Cleveland,” says DeAnna DeForest, member of Elizabeth Baptist Church. GCC visited nine Walgreens stores in Cleveland and surrounding suburbs and found it only offered testing in one store within Cleveland.
“We visited 27 CVS sites in the Greater Cleveland area and were dismayed to have discovered that while CVS offers testing in several suburbs, it is not offering any testing site within the Cleveland city limits,” says DeForest.

GCC recently announced its Color of Health Initiative, which has recruited 17 congregations as sites for free testing through Cuyahoga County. The initiative will bring testing into less affluent urban neighborhoods in a focused and sustained effort.

“We are pleased with our efforts, but realize that if testing is going to be effective, we must increase both capacity and availability,” says Rev. James Quincy of Lee Road Baptist Church. “It is an affront that these stores have made testing readily available in the suburbs, but not in the city, where the virus is having a devastating and deadly impact.”

“This is the definition of structural racism – bias built into the systems and institutions of our society to the detriment of particular racial groups,” says Rev. Ronald Maxwell of Affinity Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland. “These structures have too long resulted in the loss of life, whether from inequality within our justice system, toxic environmental conditions, the lack of access to healthy foods or, in this case, available health care.”
GCC is asking CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens to meet with GCC and do the following to create access for people living in urban areas to accessible and available testing:

  • Increase testing sites in urban neighborhoods that are predominantly Black, Brown and lower income.
  • Give $5M to Cuyahoga County to pay for more tests until there is a vaccine
  • Hand out free PPE (personal protective equipment) to people that come into the store for testing

“The presence of these stores within our communities is appreciated and testifies to the fact they find value within our communities,” says Rev. Jawanza Karriem Colvin of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland. “This crisis offers an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that they equally value the lives of individuals living in our communities.”


Color of Health Initiative seeks equal access to testing and creation of comprehensive community-wide support network as a matter of justice as we seek to suppress COVID-19.

Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) has launched a community-based campaign to test thousands across Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to contain the spread of COVID-19, with an emphasis on African American populations and other at-risk groups.

The campaign, known as the Color of Health Initiative, has recruited 17 congregations that will serve as sites for free testing through a partnership with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and MetroHealth Systems. The Initiative is being co-chaired by GCC members and Cleveland pastors, Rev. Jawanza Karriem Colvin, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church; Rev. Ronald Maxwell, Affinity Missionary Baptist Church; and Rev. James Quincy, Lee Road Baptist Church.
Public health research and experts have pointed out the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on the poor and communities of color, exposing the inequities and injustices that GCC has been building power to correct since its founding. “There is an intersecting point between where race, poverty and this virus meet and it is ground zero for the worst of this pandemic,” says Rev. Colvin. “We aim to meet it head-on.”
GCC is also conducting a community-wide survey of its member congregations and the surrounding communities as research for organizing people to ensure public and private resources are directed toward the individuals and families most adversely affected by the virus and the socio-economic impact on households. “Much of the world has demonstrated that the resources and expertise exist to not simply slow the virus, but suppress it,” says Rev. Maxwell. “We must act together now to ensure that those resources are brought to bear within communities facing the greatest threat.”

The survey will enable persons across the city and county to provide first-person feedback on their experience with the virus and its implications on their social stability and financial well-being. GCC plans to utilize this information to identify strategies and action steps that will serve as effective tools to support affected individuals and families who may be subject to financial and social disruption due to exposure to COVID-19. In addition, the survey will provide important on-the-ground data that will be used in meetings with state and local public officials to improve the COVID-19 response in public policy, public health and public dollars. “Our community is in dire need of support to overcome the negative economic, emotional and physical effects of COVID-19,” says Rev. Quincy. “We are working to deliver critical support.”

The Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Respond Fund has awarded grants to Greater Cleveland Congregations to support two recent programs that GCC has undertaken. Each grant is for $500,000. One of the grants will support GCC’s work with Cleveland Owns and the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) to develop a collective purchasing program that will negotiate better prices on electricity, gas and other essential services for member congregations so they can use the savings to support their core missions during the pandemic crisis. The second grant is to support GCC’s recently announced Color of Health Initiative, a community-based COVID-19 testing campaign. A significant portion of the grant will be used to purchase personal protection equipment (PPE) through our partnership with the CPA. Each individual who has been tested will receive a bag that contains masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and thermometers.


Greater Boston Interfaith Organization Leaders Push for Progress on Health Care

Photography by Tracy Trejo
“We have faith but we have lost our patience.” 836 strong, GBIO  joined the MA Senate President, Senate Health Care Finance Chair and Secretary of Health and Human Services to push for progress on health care in Massachusetts. All three politicians have released or committed to legislation that addresses GBIO’s 3 priority issues. GBIO leaders will organize in-district meetings with House members to ensure that all three branches of government are on board with real reform. GBIO was also joined by over 85 people from 43 guest organizations. These institutions are looking to engage with GBIO, either as allies or as prospective new members, as part of GBIO’s refounding.
836 strong, GBIO joined the MA Senate President, Senate Health Care Finance Chair, and Secretary of Health and Human Services on Monday, November 4th, to push for progress on health care in Massachusetts. All three politicians have released or committed to legislation that addresses the 3 issues in GBIO’s health care legislative campaign: 
1. Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs
2. Eliminating Out-of-network Surprise Billing
3. Increasing Access to Affordable Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care
During Monday night’s action, leaders from across GBIO shared personal stories of struggles connected to these issues:
One woman described the $363 price tag on a 10-day supply of her husband’s kidney medication that insurance wouldn’t cover and she couldn’t afford.
Another told of receiving a $1300 surprise bill after diligently checking to make sure her family’s care was covered. 
A third shared her anger and frustration after her daughter was denied ongoing mental health care by her insurance, only to land back in the emergency room.
Bonny Gilbert and Michael Rubenstein, co-chairs of the GBIO Health Care Action Team, reviewed the policy goals of GBIO’s legislative campaign and the politics it would take to win. Senate President Karen Spilka, Senator Cindy Friedman and Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders spoke of their commitment and their actions to address our issues. Both Spilka and Sudders shared their own stories of struggling with mental health care for family members.
Before the action closed in prayer, GBIO leaders committed to holding in-district meetings with members of the House of Representatives to push for legislative action in the House, with the goal of passing legislation this session.
Over 85 people from 43 guest organization, including the Boston Teachers Union, St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church, Unite Here Local 26, and Hyde Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, joined GBIO in action. These institutions are looking to engage with GBIO, either as allies or as prospective new members, as part of GBIO’s refounding. Last May, current GBIO leaders voted to refound GBIO by 2021, with the goal of bringing in 10-20 new institutions.


Metro IL working to end pipeline to prison with Crisis Stabilization Units

Leaders from United Power for Action and Justice, Fox River Valley Initiative, DuPage United and Lake County United convened representatives from law enforcement, health care providers and non-profits to meet with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his top staff. This powerful group pressed for an increase in Medicaid reimbursement rate for Crisis Stabilization Units (CSU), which will help end the pipeline to prison and unclog crowded emergency rooms.  This will reduce Medicaid cost by diverting from emergency rooms. On July 11, a ribbon cutting was held on the new addition at Holy Cross Hospital, which will now be able to move patients out of a crowded makeshift space to a fully operating Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU), increasing capacity threefold. This is the first of 5 CSUs in the 5 county region.

GBIO Health Care Legislative Campaign Wins Big, Saves MassHealth budget $71M per year

GBIO Leaders and Coalition Partners Carry a “Check” to the State House for the money saved by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, totaling $71 million per year.

The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), along with partners in the Massachusetts Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition, scored its first win in its 2019-2020 health care legislative campaign. Language passed as part of the 2020 budget gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to develop a proposed value of a drug as well as have a public hearing if MassHealth (Massachusetts’ Medicaid agency) cannot agree with the drug manufacturer on a fair price. Using this negotiating leverage will lower the state’s prescription drug costs, which have doubled over the last five years. This will save the State of MA $71 Million per year in the annual MassHealth budget.

To make their voices heard, GBIO members gathered alongside members of coalition partner organizations at a Health Care Action Day at the State House. Leaders met with legislators and staff, demanding the strongest legislation possible to fight back against the doubling of prescription drug costs for MassHealth over the last five years.

In this legislative campaign, GBIO is pushing for real reform in the current session of the Massachusetts Legislature by:

  • - Lowering Prescription Drug Costs
  • - Increasing Access to Affordable Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care
  • - Regulating Out-of-network “Surprise” Bills

With this win, further legislative efforts will focus on other ways to lower prescription drug costs as well as create administrative tools to enforce mental health parity and remove the “surprise” from out-of-network bills.
GBIO members gathered alongside members of our coalition partner organizations at a Health Care Action Day at the Statehouse.

Metro IL wins commit to establish Crisis Stabilization Unit across 5 counties

Fox River Valley Initiative (FRVI) worked with Kane County States Attorney to get a meeting with Governor Pritzker.  A team of leaders from Dupage United, FRVI, United Power and Lake County United met with the Governor to seek his support for Medicaid funding for Crisis Stabilization Units, which divert those in a mental crisis from jail and hospital emergency room. The Governor then directed his Deputy Governor and Director of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to meet with IL Metro IAF leaders to address this issue by July 1, 2019. 
Illinois Metro IAF leaders then organized a meeting with allies from hospitals and law enforcement to meet with Deputy Governor Flores and HFS Director Eagleson to lay out the urgency and impact of Crisis Stabilization Units. Top executive staff from five health care providers, including 2 independent safety net hospitals,1 for-profit behavioral hospital, and a hospital network shared their commitment to establish a separate Crisis Stabilization Unit across 5 five counties all within about a year.

LCU wins funds to cover under/un-insured outpatient & wrap around services

Lake County United organized a meeting with Lake County Chairwoman, Health Department Executive Director, President Chiefs of Police Association and Waukegan Police Chief to seek a commitment from U.S. Healthvest / Lake Behavioral Hospital to provide space, staff, medical clearance, detoxification and police drop off, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay with state approved Medicaid funding for these services. A commitment verbally and in writing was made by U.S.Healthvest, which will allow the county to redirect funds from building and running a CSU to put toward outpatient and wrap around services. 

GBIO Wins Unprecedented Price Caps, Saving Consumers $1B From Healthcare Systems Merger

Photo of Attorney General Maura Healey at GBIO Oct. 22nd 20th Anniversary action
As part of a court-filed consumer protection agreement negotiated between Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH), Massachusetts consumers and taxpayers will save over one billion dollars of healthcare costs over the next seven years as a result of price caps established in response to action by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). The cost savings are based on a report by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, a state research agency established by law championed by GBIO in 2012.
Beth Israel and Lahey Health Systems and a combination of 13 hospitals have been attempting to merge into a single healthcare system since the beginning of 2017. By forming the second largest healthcare system in Massachusetts, BILH believes it will be better able to compete against Partners Healthcare, the dominant healthcare system in Massachusetts. GBIO has been fighting for consumers and taxpayers to ensure that the merger would not cause a dramatic increase in costs. When the Health Policy Commission predicted that the merger would drive up healthcare costs by as much as $230 million dollars per year, GBIO challenged Attorney General Maura Healey and other state agencies to protect consumers from this outrageous increase in cost.
At the Fall GBIO Action, held on October 22nd at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Attorney General Maura Healey engaged with over 1400 people representing 43 GBIO member institutions. GBIO leaders called for and Attorney General Healey promised to fight for conditions “with teeth” in the proposed merger, to protect consumers from increasing costs and declining access, particularly for low income and communities of color. You can see Attorney General Healey’s response to our action and our call for her to stay strong during her negotiations.
On November 29th, she announced an unprecedented seven-year price cap to ensure that Beth Israel Lahey Health does not take advantage of its market power to increase its prices. These prices are established as BILH negotiates with health insurance companies which then pass on increased costs to consumers in the forms of higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs.
Price caps such as these have never been negotiated as part of a healthcare market transaction in Massachusetts. In addition to the price caps, other demands of GBIO, such as improved access for the Massachusetts Medicaid population and $72 million in support of lower-cost settings for healthcare, were included as part of the agreement between Attorney General Healey and BILH.
In an interview with WBUR radio, Bonny Gilbert, co-chair of the GBIO healthcare action team, said, "We would like to see this kind of stronger language at least be the beginnings of more constraints on Partners and some of the other health care providers." And, says Gilbert, the caps must not be allowed to expire for BILH.
Additional link: WCVB Channel 5 highlighted GBIO’s involvement in this merger. 

Lake County United Wins an Additional 100 Inpatient Beds for Behavioral Hospital in Waukegan

Christa Haberkorn speaks to City of Waukegan Planning Zoning Commission about the losing her job due to long distance travel to seek medical care for her daughter.
Lake County United successfully pressed for approval of adding 100 more inpatient beds at the new behavioral hospital in Waukegan, IL.  Lake Behavioral Hospital will now have 146 beds and committed to serve adults and adolescents regardless of ability to pay.  Picture of hospital below.

LI-CAN Wins Expansion of Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medical leaders and practitioners attend LI-CAN’s Medication-Assisted Treatment conference to fight opioid addiction.
Long Island CAN made major strides this month in its campaign to get life-saving medical care for the thousands of opioid users on Long Island, whose addiction exposes them to increasingly lethal synthetic opioids.
More than 100 medical leaders and practitioners attended LI-CAN’s March 17th conference on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction.  MAT is the medical standard of care for opioid addiction, but most opioid users don’t receive it.  Instead the prevailing approach is abstinence-based treatment which, for 90% of clients, leads to a relapse within 3 months of discharge from treatment.
LI-CAN is working to remove the barriers to MAT in the medical profession, the criminal justice system, insurer practices, and the treatment system.  Three breakthrough wins were announced or achieved at the conference:
  • The region’s two largest hospital chains will begin providing MAT to opioid users in their emergency departments (EDs).  LI-CAN asked the chains to change their ED protocols in 2017 after hearing story after story of opioid users overdosing fatally after being discharged quickly from EDs when they survived previous overdoses.  “We asked them to stop missing these opportunities to interrupt the deadly progression of this disease,” said LI-CAN Co-chairperson Rev. Gideon Pollach.  “We brought them a proposal based on a Yale study showing you can save lives by starting MAT in the emergency room, instead of just discharging these patients with a referral to treatment.  Now that the two biggest chains have said yes, we will work to make this the standard approach to handling opioid overdoses in the ED.”
  • 30 doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants received training needed to receive a federal waiver to prescribe buprenorphine, a highly effective MAT drug.  These new prescribers will help alleviate the shortage of practitioners offering the drug on Long Island.
  • A group of veteran MAT practitioners launched a groundbreaking MAT Learning Collaborative to provide ongoing peer support, education and clinical mentorships for fellow practitioners.  “A learning collaborative is one cornerstone to a functioning MAT infrastructure on Long Island,” said Dr. Leslie Marino, an addiction psychiatrist who has served as LI-CAN’s medical advisor.
Building on these successes, LI-CAN will now expand its work to root out the stigma and bias against MAT throughout the criminal justice system.

GCC wins Medicaid Expansion in Ohio

Greater Cleveland Congregations takes much credit for Medicaid Expansion in Ohio, which gives an additional 275,000 Ohioans access to Health Care.  Starting in 2012, GCC created the NEO-MEC coalition with hospitals and other interests, held a 1200-person Assembly at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church to show our support for expansion, lobbied in Columbus 4 times, wrote thousands of letters and made phone calls to our legislators, filled 3 busses on 3 days’ notice to rally on the Statehouse steps, canvassed in 3 local swing districts to urge voters to contact their legislators, wrote an op-ed in the Plain Dealer, and collected 2,500 signatures in 3 weeks during a ballot initiative.

On October 21st, the Controlling Board voted to approve the federal funds to expand Medicaid, and on December 21st, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld this decision. 

Common Ground Launches Healthcare Cooperative

Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative

Common Ground IAF in Southeastern Wisconsin has a solution to skyrocketting healthcare costs: the formation of their own health insurance company: The Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative (CGHC).

Targeting small businesses, non-profits and individuals in the seven counties of Southeastern Wisconsin, the non-profit, member governed cooperative will launch January 1, 2014. The cooperative is funded with a $56 million loan from the federal government through the Affordable Care Act.

Non-profit means any surplus will be invested back into the company for the benefit of its members, helping keep premium costs lower. The organization focuses on working with doctors, hospitals, agents and members so that the best healthcare can be provided at a reasonable rate. A member elected board of directors will give participants a say in how the cooperative operates and – by keeping the books transparent – each individual will know exactly what their premium is used for.

Together the CGHC and Common Ground have initiated the process of enrolling 25,000 to 50,000 between 2012 and 2017.

GBIO wins campaign for health care cost containment in MA

The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, a lead group inside the coalition that passed Massachusetts' 2006 universal health care law, has made health care history again by organizing overwhelming public support for a new law that will contain the growth of medical costs.  This legislation, like the universal health care law itself, will likely become a model for national reform.  

Common Ground wins a $56 million federal grant to launch an innovate health care cooperative in Milwaukee!

Common Ground, a coalition of religious groups and other organizations, has been awarded a $56.4 million federal loan to start a nonprofit health insurer that would be run by its members.

The money is part of $3.8 billion included federal health care reform to help start nonprofit health insurers, similar to cooperatives, to compete in the market for individuals and small businesses.

The loans are to help the nonprofit health insurers - referred to as CO-OPs, for Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans - with start-up costs and to meet requirements that insurers maintain minimum reserves to pay claims.

Over 500,000 in Massachusetts have health care thanks to GBIO.

Tananya Henry of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization cheers the hard work that led to the Massachusetts health reform law -- which has since provided health insurance coverage to nearly 1/2 million people all across the state, including many member of her own Roxbury church.

In the News

Leadership Spotlight: Bonnie Gilbert & Michael Rubenstein

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Bonny Gilbert and Michael Rubenstein, co-chairs of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) Health Care Action Team, celebrated a big win last November, after Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced an agreement saving consumers $1.2 billion dollars over 7 years in the merger of two large Boston-area hospital systems.

This win left the pair inspired to do more. Now, they are leading GBIO in a legislative campaign to improve health care by (a) lowering the cost of prescription drugs, (b) increasing access to affordable mental health care, and (c) lowering out-of-pocket expenses — and they see this as just the beginning.

Gilbert and Rubenstein share a big vision “the re-injection of human-centered values” into our healthcare system. Rubenstein explains, “our healthcare system is economically driven. Instead, it should fundamentally ensure that people are thriving and healthy.” Gilbert acknowledges that realizing this vision will be a challenge. “The opponents are big and powerful. At GBIO, we need to continue to build our own power.”

For both Gilbert and Rubenstein, the fight is personal.  Gilbert cites the $24,000 her family spends annually on health care as evidence of runaway costs. Rubenstein describes his shock at the “complexity of the billings and charges” after his wife’s two toe surgeries. Both were drawn to action after realizing that many others shared these struggles with the healthcare system.

GBIO made health care history in 2006, as part of the coalition that passed Health Care Reform in Massachusetts, legislation which paved the way for the Affordable Care Act of 2010. After a second legislative victory in 2012, health care took a back seat to other issue areas within GBIO. Says Gilbert, “I was very passionate about moving back into action around costs and access.”  Gilbert became chair of the Health Care Action Team in 2016, after just a few years with GBIO. Rubenstein joined the team in 2017, quickly taking on more leadership, and joined Gilbert as co-chair last year.

For both, working with GBIO has been a powerful learning experience. When Rubenstein learned about GBIO from a member of his synagogue, he was looking for a new challenge. A successful entrepreneur, he had recently sold his company, after growing it for 25 years. Following the sale, he spent a year at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative program, hoping to move into social entrepreneurship.  “Soon after I joined GBIO, I began going to meetings with key players in the healthcare industry (insurance organizations, hospital groups). The hospital merger became an opportunity for all sorts of stakeholders to weigh in on this question of power.

It made me realize that GBIO’s way of building and deploying power was an exciting model for making change. That’s what keeps me involved.”  Adds Rubenstein, “I’m still in the learning process of how to do this work. You don’t have to be perfect from Day 1. Instead, people take action, learn from the reactions others have, and then act again. There aren’t a lot of places where this way of learning is possible.”
Gilbert worked for years in finance, and then became an attorney, first working in the Attorney General’s office, and then practicing for a decade as an appellate criminal defense lawyer.  She is now in a new career as a reverse mortgage lender, working with seniors and their financial advisors.  For Gilbert, whose careers have been more in line with direct service, GBIO fulfills a dream to have a broader impact at the policy level and gives her the opportunity to grow as a leader. “First, it was exciting to take on a leadership role — making strategic decisions, learning about complex issues, and meeting with policy makers.”  Now, she observes, it is “exciting to help new people step in and lead.”  But she admits that it was a little challenging, when Rubenstein first joined her as co-chair, learning how to “do this work together.”  Both Gilbert and Rubenstein are now going through these growing pains again as they build the GBIO health care team, “learning how to delegate in a positive way.”  Says Gilbert, “at our recent Health Care Assembly in May, people who had never been to an action before told amazing stories. Michael and I each did a small piece but many other people stepped up to make it happen. It was so exciting and moving to see health care, once again, become an issue for all of GBIO. It took my breath away.”

LCU builds school-based clinics one tour at a time

Thursday, June 27, 2019
Lake County United

Parents of the Waukegan School District (16,000 students and 70% low-income) and residents of Waukegan are working together as part of Lake County United (LCU) to press for a mental health clinic in the High School.  LCU organized a tour of a clinic in another school district with three school members, including the President, and top district staff attending, resulting in an increase of support and sense of urgency to address this need.

Community Health Worker Poster Wins People’s Choice Award

Thursday, June 27, 2019

BUILD Community Health Worker (CHW) Griselda “Zelda” Funn, a Turnaround Tuesday graduate who works at University of Maryland Midtown Clinic, won the “People’s Choice” Award for her poster presentation at the 4th Annual Symposium on Home and Community Based Care. The symposium presented by the University of Maryland’s School of Nursing was well attended by nurses and social workers and other home and community based care providers. The poster was entitled “Recruitment, Training, and Placement of Community Health Workers in Baltimore City in the Global Budget Revenue Era.” Zelda was the only CHW in attendance, and was “very engaging” with visitors to the poster, telling stories and explaining the process of training and placement.

GBIO Leader Testifies at Public Hearing on Massachusetts Healthcare Systems Merger

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Greater Boston Interfaith Organization
Bonny Gilbert, chair of GBIO’s Health Care team, testified at a public hearing on the merger of healthcare systems Beth Israel Deaconess, Lahey, and others. Gilbert argued for protections against consumer cost hikes, saying, “There has never been a merger that has not increased costs… We cannot afford to allow any more mergers solely on the basis of well-intended, yet unaccountable goal statements. You, the Public Health Council, have a responsibility to the Massachusetts citizens to require that this merger live up to its goals by requiring it to maintain per capita health care spending growth at or below the benchmark, and to document this compliance, with consequences for any failure.”
--Read More Here--

Common Ground Health Care Co-op Enrollment Surges

Friday, December 13, 2013
Business Journal

Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative, a creature of an Obamacare initiative for nonprofit customer-owned health plans, has enrolled more than 2,200 Wisconsinites so far — and 75 percent to 80 percent of them enrolled via the online health-insurance marketplace.

Bob De Vita, chief executive officer of Brookfield-based Common Ground, said he is confident the co-op will meet his goal of signing 10,000 people by the end of 2014.

“I would say with 19 counties in our service area, we’re going to be able to eclipse that,” he told an audience at the Milwaukee Press Club downtown at a luncheon Wednesday. “It’s a bold statement to make, but I think we’re going to do it.”


GBIO Health Care Cost Containment Action

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Boston Globe

  Over 200 GBIO leaders gathered major health providers, insurers, and healthcare system officials to examine their progress in adhering to the targets of landmark health care cost containment legislation passed in 2012.

The action received extensive coverage from major media:

The Boston Globe

John McDonough on



Could Medicaid expansion decrease drug court costs, save local taxpayer dollars? Cleveland judge says yes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge David Matia estimates that area residents could save millions in local taxes if the offenders he sees in drug court had health insurance. And if Ohio were to expand Medicaid, as being debated by state legislators, many of the defendants in his court would qualify for the state and federal health insurance program for the poor.... As the clock ticks on a decision, local lobbying for expansion has stepped up: On Monday, community activists held a rally at the Neighborhood Family Practice Center, a federally qualified community health center on Cleveland's West Side. In addition, Greater Cleveland Congregations announced that dozens of volunteers from area religious organizations and neighborhood groups will go door to door in the legislative swing districts of Rocky River, Berea and Solon this week to urge people to contact their legislators. 

Gov. Kasich invokes 'the Good Book' while urging Medicaid expansion

Friday, February 22, 2013
Cleveland Plain Dealer


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich touted expansion of Ohio’s Medicaid program in his State of the State address as the right and compassionate thing to do, invoking his personal faith and lessons from “the Good Book” as a guide in his decision. The governor urged lawmakers to examine their consciences and not let concerns about government spending, something conservative Republicans in the General Assembly have expressed, trump what he laid out as a moral imperative: helping the less fortunate.

Governors Fall Away in G.O.P. Opposition to More Medicaid

Friday, February 22, 2013
The New York Times

Under pressure from the health care industry and consumer advocates, seven Republican governors are cautiously moving to expand Medicaid, giving an unexpected boost to President Obama’s plan to insure some 30 million more Americans.... Every few days, state hospital associations and advocates for poor people issue reports asserting that the economic benefits of expanding Medicaid would outweigh the costs. In recent weeks, such reports have been issued in Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The existence of such a report was a decisive factor in Ohio, where Gov. John R. Kasich decided to embrace an expansion after months of lobbying by coalitions of churches, hospitals, business groups and others. Publication of that study — by Ohio State University, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, the Urban Institute and Regional Economic Models — was “a major watershed moment,” said Ari Lipman, lead organizer of Greater Cleveland Congregations and chairman of the Northeast Ohio Medicaid Expansion Coalition.

Ohio's Gov. John Kasich to seek Medicaid Expansion

Monday, February 4, 2013
Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio --Saying that an expansion of Medicaid will help “some of the poorest Ohioans, Gov. John Kasich included the much-anticipated announcement in his two-year budget proposal Monday. The move makes Ohio one of a growing number of Republican-led states to fulfill an option under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid to those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Religious, community members rally to urge Gov. Kasich to expand Medicaid in Ohio

Friday, January 25, 2013
Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio --- More than 1,000 rallied at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland on Thursday night to show their support for expanding Medicaid in Ohio.  The assembly brought together members of religious congregations, community groups and major health care providers to demonstrate community support for expanding Medicaid.

Religious, community members rally to urge Gov. Kasich to expand Medicaid in Ohio

Friday, January 25, 2013
Cleveland Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio --- More than 1,000 rallied at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland on Thursday night to show their support for expanding Medicaid in Ohio.  The assembly brought together members of religious congregations, community groups and major health care providers to demonstrate community support for expanding Medicaid.

Will Ohio Gov. John Kasich expand Medicaid? "Too important to leave hanging"

Sunday, January 13, 2013
Cleveland Plain Dealer

For Ohio’s health care industry and patient advocates, all eyes are on Gov. John Kasich and the two-year state budget he’s expected to propose on Feb. 4. 

Massachusetts Aims to Cut Growth of Its Health Costs

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The New York Times

The Massachusetts legislature passed a first-in-the-nation bill on Tuesday that seeks to limit the growth of health care costs in the state.  The bill would not allow spending on health care to grow any faster than the state’s economy through 2017. For five years after that, any rise in health care costs would need to be half a percentage point lower than the increase in the state’s gross domestic product.

Mitt must stop running from Romneycare

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
New York Daily News

By Michael Gecan and Cheri Andes

In 2006, then-<a data-cke-saved-href="\\" href="\\&quot;\\&quot;" title="\\&quot;Mitt" romney\\"="">Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney helped save the lives of two sick women: Tammy Stafford and Lavern Barnes.

In Health Care, Cheaper Can Be Better

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The Boston Globe

An Irish adage says: “When you come to a wall that is too high to climb, throw your hat over the wall, and then go get your hat.” That’s what Massachusetts started with its 2006 law requiring just about everyone to get coverage and arranging to make that coverage affordable. Now, it’s time to get the hat.  Legislation to contain costs is the necessary sequel. Reducing costs won’t just rescue health care; it will also help rescue our schools, our roads, our museums, our wages, and the competitiveness of our corporations; that’s because every additional nickel we spend on health care comes from somewhere else — somewhere also important.

House Vs. Senate Health Reform Plans: Let The Comparison Shopping Begin

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Massachusetts House released its plan for cutting health costs on Friday. The Senate isreleasing its own plan today. And now begins the public “compare and contrast” period, the ingathering of input that could influence the final bill that the legislature is expected to pass this summer.

Let us commence. This just came in from the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which has been campaigning for lower health costs:

Religious, business leaders support aggressive cap on health cost increases

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Boston Globe


Religious and business leaders in Massachusetts are calling for state lawmakers to rein in health spending more aggressively than House Speaker Robert DeLeo has proposed, but groups representing doctors and hospitals warned that slowing spending too sharply could be harmful.  The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which has provided a significant consumer voice throughout the state’s health care overhaul, said Tuesday night that DeLeo’s proposal to cap health care cost increases at about 3.7 percent annually, an amount comparable to the yearly growth in the state’s economy, was insufficient. DeLeo said recently that was his goal for containing costs in a long-awaited bill expected to be filed shortly and acted on by legislators this summer.

Nonprofit health insurer lands federal loan

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Common Ground, a coalition of religious groups and other organizations, has been awarded a $56.4 million federal loan to start a nonprofit health insurer that would be run by its members.


Health Care in Massachusetts: 'Abject Failure' or Work in Progress?

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Massachusetts law has had strong and steady support — and little opposition. Last year an attempt to repeal the "individual mandate" — the part that requires most people to have insurance — couldn't get enough signatures. Last week only 39 people had "liked" its Facebook page. To get an idea of how it's working at the ground level, I stopped by the office of Dieufort Fleurissaint, a self-employed Haitian-American businessman. He has a tax prep and insurance business. He's also an evangelical minister who worked with a group called Greater Boston Interfaith Organization that helped get the health law passed.

Grassroots Groups Rally To Control Health Care Costs

Monday, September 26, 2011
WBUR (Boston NPR)

BOSTON — Many health care experts say the U.S. will not wrestle down health care spending unless consumers jump into the debate. But explaining the wonky world of health care finance is tough, even in the medical mecca of Boston. That’s not stopping two grassroots groups that played a key role in passing the state’s health coverage law. On Sunday night they held their first rally on healthcare spending at a church in Roxbury.

Freezes sought on health insurance rates

Thursday, June 30, 2011
Boston Globe

As lawmakers and industry leaders toil over plans to fundamentally change how health care is paid for in Massachusetts, two leading consumer groups are asking them to give ratepayers a one-year reprieve from premium increases. At a noontime rally at the State House today, Health Care for All and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization plan to call for a 2012 freeze on base premium rates that have jumped sharply in the past decade. The idea is to pressure decision makers, particularly insurers and hospitals, to hash out a long-term plan at a quicker pace...

Mass. Religious Group Campaigns Against Rising Health Care Costs

Monday, December 6, 2010

BOSTON — Get ready for the next hot religious campaign in Boston: rising health care costs. Yes, the group that chanted, prayed and sang its way to passage of the state’s health coverage law says it’s time to rein in health care spending. Greater Boston Interfaith Organization launched a campaign Sunday, and WBUR’s Martha Bebinger has this review of the first team meeting...

Religious, community groups seek promises from county executive candidates

Thursday, September 23, 2010
Baltimore Sun

A group of over 200 Howard County residents pushing a new fall agenda to benefit unemployed youth and the aging got quick promises of support from Democratic County Executive Ken Ulman but not from Trent Kittleman, his Republican challenger.

People Acting Together in Howard, a coalition of 15 churches, one mosque and several citizens groups, wanted both Ulman and Kittleman to support their plans for more aggressive youth employment programs and more help to allow the elderly to stay in their homes. PATH is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, a group founded by the late Saul Alinsky, a well-known community organizer...

Interfaith group rallies in Richmond

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Arlington Connection

More than 200 individuals from VOICE — Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement — traveled to Richmond on Tuesday, March 2, to urge the budget conferees to adopt the Senate’s bi-partisan budget that restores and protects the dental health safety net.

They met with senators and delegates individually and then gathered with 17 Northern Virginia legislative leaders, including three of the budget conferees at a meeting in the Capitol...