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Faith Leaders Urge Governors to Stop Obstructing Medicaid Expansion

September 10, 2012, 5:36 pm | Posted by Casey Schoeneberger

Over 100 Faith Leaders Call on Governors to Fulfill Moral Responsibility to Protect Poor and Vulnerable

Today a diverse coalition of national and state faith leaders held a press teleconference and released a statement from over 100 faith leaders calling on governors to put the well-being of their constituents ahead of political ideology and ensure millions of Americans receive the coverage they deserve through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion plan. The full audio recording of the call is available here.

Governors across the country have announced their intentions to obstruct the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion plan, potentially leaving millions of vulnerable Americans without vital, life-saving healthcare coverage. While the expansion is designed to provide insurance to millions of hardworking Americans who are caught in a coverage gap, governors’ refusal to accept the expansion plan will leave these low-income individuals and families with nowhere to turn for their most basic healthcare needs.

“The faith community is calling on these governors to put the health of their constituents before their immoral political ideology, said Rev. Jennifer Butler, Executive Director of Faith in Public Life. “Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid will save lives and alleviate suffering for poor families without straining state budgets. It’s unconscionable that politicians would even consider refusing to accept it.”

“I call on all governors to expand Medicaid coverage in order to save thousands of lives,” said Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby and organizer of the recent “Nuns on the Bus” tour.  “My strong support of Medicaid expansion comes out of my pro-life stance because it is the right and moral thing to do.”

“For decades our faith communities have been at the heart of promoting meaning health care reform, including the Medicaid program which gives access to those who are poor and most vulnerable in our nation,” said Linda Hanna Walling, Executive Director of Faithful Reform in Healthcare. “The Affordable Care Act is the first time our country successfully made a national legislative commitment in support of quality affordable health care for all.  By expanding Medicaid in this historic legislation, we are more completely addressing the original intent of Medicaid and fulfilling our moral imperative to assist those who are poor and sick.

“My faith tells me to be a blessing, ‘Blesseth are those that consider the poor’.  Our society, yes even our nation, will be judged on how we care for the least of them among us.” said Rev. Rayfield Burns of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist in Kansas City, Missouri, and member of PICO affiliate Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO).

“More than 400,000 Virginians stand to gain health insurance through Medicaid expansion,” said Elder Marco A. Grimaldo, CEO & President of Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. “In the near term, this expansion will be almost completely paid for by the federal government, and in 2017 Virginia will chip in $1 for every $9 the federal government contributes. We spend very little on Medicaid benefits in Virginia, so if we refuse to accept the expansion thousands of Virginians will be unable to access affordable care. Ignoring their unmet needs is immoral.”

“Nine Republican Governors have indicated their intention to reject the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, placing coverage for over 5 million vulnerable people at risk. These people are our neighbors and colleagues,” said Melissa Boteach, Director of Half-in-Ten. “They are often the workers who are cleaning our offices, preparing our food, or caring for our aging parents. States have a responsibility to ensure that all of their citizens are able to access the promise of affordable health coverage. It’s time to put people above politics.”

Co-sponsored by PICO National Network, Half-in-Ten, the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress and Faith in Public Life, leaders on the call unequivocally urged governors to not put political posturing ahead of the needs of America’s most vulnerable people.

Statement and signatories available here. A full recording of today’s press call is also available here.



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