Missouri's Bishops Support Medicaid Expansion
Statement of the Episcopal Bishops of Missouri on
Ballot Initiative (2020-063) to Expand Medicaid
Oct. 31, 2019
As one, the bishops of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church within the State of Missouri, offer this statement to voice our support for ballot initiative 2020-063, which would expand the Missouri Medicaid (MO HealthNet) program to the benefit of all sectors of our society.
The Missouri Legislature’s failure to expand Medicare leaves Missouri as one of 14 states that have failed to take advantage of Medicaid Expansion. Several independent studies conclude that this is detrimental to the health of Missouri’s citizens, to Missouri’s health care providers, to Missouri’s hospitals, and to employers and employees alike. Since, healthcare is a component of work and employment, not being able to work productively hurts both employees and employers, and that makes it crucial to the labor market.
Everyone loses because Missouri has not accepted the benefit of the federal fiscal support that would underwrite 90% of the costs of expansion, open the door to enhanced reimbursement for insurance rates for disabled Missourians, and yield savings in other areas of the state’s budget as a result of a heathier population.
Currently, the MO HealthNet program covers disabled persons, low-income pregnant women, children in low-income households, and some impoverished seniors. Any other adult can only qualify if they both have children and have a family income that falls below 22% of the federal poverty level. Therefore, for example, a family of three would need to have a household income of less than $400 per month for a parent to receive coverage. Even holding a part-time, minimum-wage job makes most able-bodied parents ineligible for Medicaid. In this program only a very few among the able-bodied, only the poorest of the poor, are covered thus leaving huge gaps in healthcare affordability to those who are not well-off enough to purchase health insurance nor poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.
The benefits dwarf any negligible costs to the state.
It is lamentable that the citizenry of Missouri must resort to an amendment to the state’s Constitution that does an end-run around our legislative system. Unfortunately, our legislature has not done what is best for Missouri and its citizens. Consequently, we offer our support to ballot initiative 2020-063, Missouri Medicaid Expansion Initiative. There are unmet healthcare needs among the citizens of this state, and the continued delivery of medical care to those who need it most through Missouri hospitals is vital.
As we are sisters and brothers of one, creator God, we encourage the faithful of our dioceses and any other concerned citizens to consider supporting the effort to expand the Missouri Medicaid program.
The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith
10th Bishop of Missouri
The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field
8th Bishop of West Missouri