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Justice Prayers - December 13, 2023

Blessings to you as you reflect on hope during advent.  "But the needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed." - Psalm 9:18 NLT 

Ottawa launches $13B dental-care program with kids and seniors first up for coverage

The federal government unveiled its new dental-care plan on Monday — a $13-billion insurance program that will start covering routine dentistry costs next year for people who meet a certain income threshold. Ottawa will cover kids under 18 and some seniors first before expanding the program to all eligible low- and middle-income Canadians in 2025. Applications for seniors aged 87 and over will open later this month. Other age groups will be able to apply in the new year. The staggered application process is designed to make the rollout as smooth as possible. The government says it expects millions of people to avail themselves of this new component of Canada's social safety net. Coverage will be phased in over time, but some eligible participants will start to receive benefits as early as May 2024. Costs incurred before the relevant start date will not be covered. This insurance-based program replaces the interim program that has been sending checks directly to families with kids under 12 for the last year. To be eligible for the program, a person must have a household income below $90,000 and no access to an existing private insurance plan. The person must also have filed a tax return so the government can verify income. The plan is most generous for families that have household incomes below $70,000. They face no co-pays to a participating dentist, hygienist or denturist, and Ottawa will pick up the tab for covered services like cleaning, polishing, examinations, X-rays, fillings, root canal treatments and complete and partial removable dentures.

For the children and seniors who will benefit greatly from this program, we express our immense joy and delight that their teeth, gums, and oral health may no longer be a hindrance. So many struggle mightily with medical bills that lead them to choosing between meeting their daily needs and paying a medical expense. For all those for whom this is a reality, we pray that this might be immediate relief on their bodies and their wallets.

Medical debt is putting more Americans in financial crisis

More Americans than ever, about 92%, now have health insurance – and simultaneously face enormous bills. Over the last decade, insurers and employers have pushed more cost-sharing onto individuals and families. Now, squeezed by medical costs and inflation, more than 100 million Americans have medical debt and roughly the same proportion report avoiding a prescription because of it. Sara Collins, a health policy scholar and vice-president at the Commonwealth Fund, said “those are the trends we’ve seen”, referring to “growth in healthcare costs, household incomes that haven’t kept pace with those costs, and employers’ use of increased cost-sharing”. The US health system is a whopping 16% of gross domestic product (GDP). That’s more – by a long shot – than any other wealthy, developed nation. France and Germany are the next closest, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which each spend around 12% of GDP on healthcare. In the past five years, more than half of U.S. adults report they've gone into debt because of medical or dental bills, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found. A quarter of adults with health care debt owe more than $5,000. And about 1 in 5 with any amount of debt said they don't expect to ever pay it off.

El Shaddai, There are so many among us who are so profoundly burdened by a health care system that all too often seems much more interested in profit than it is individual and communal health outcomes. Help us to have an imagination for a system that works for people, and not just shareholders and profiteers. 

COP28 draft climate deal criticized as ‘grossly insufficient’ and ‘incoherent’

A draft deal to cut global fossil fuel production is “grossly insufficient” and “incoherent” and will not stop the world from facing dangerous climate breakdown, according to delegates at the UN’s COP28 summit. The text put forward by the summit presidency after 10 days of wrangling was received with concern and anger by many climate experts and politicians, though others welcomed elements of the draft including the first mention in a COP text of reducing fossil fuel production. Some countries are despairing that the text does not require a full phase-out of fossil fuels. Cedric Schuster of Samoa, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, said: “We will not sign our death certificate. We cannot sign on to a text that does not have strong commitments on phasing out fossil fuels.” The COP28 presidency released a draft text in the early evening on Monday, which called for “reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, so as to achieve net zero by, before or around 2050, in keeping with the science”. The text avoids highly contentious calls for a “phase-out” or “phase-down” of fossil fuels, which have been the focus of deep disagreement among the more than 190 countries meeting in Dubai.

Why do we continue to do this, God? How long must we watch those tasked with seeking our collective best interest protect the egos and pocketbooks of the wealthy and powerful? We need a revolution of values, dollars, and a transformation of our political agenda. We need a new way!

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Caring for Volunteers

How is your church volunteer community? Is it thriving? Are you lacking volunteers post-COVID? Many churches are finding themselves in the midst of a volunteer shortage. If your church would like support in this area, the Thrive team has developed a workshop for you to navigate this reality. Reach out to them anytime for support!  Learn More »

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (January 21, 2024) 

This year, we are anchoring our Sanctity of Human Life commemoration in Our World Belongs to God, the Contemporary Testimony of the Christian Reformed Church, Article 44. Because of our call to treat all life with awe and respect—from the womb to the tomb—we invite you to visit our resource page ( as we explore a holistic ethic of life as it relates to the unborn, disabled, and end of life issues.  Order special bulletin inserts for your church today!

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