“As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick; raise the dead; cleanse those with a skin disease; cast out demons.” [Matthew 10: 7-8 NRSVue]
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) stands firmly in the belief that the budget reconciliation package, now named the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, should include funding to close the Medicaid coverage gap.
We applaud the Act’s inclusion of lower Medicare prescription costs and a continuation of premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act insurance. However, closing the Medicaid coverage gap is the only provision that would mainly benefit people living in poverty. As Christians, we must answer when scripture asks, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” [1 John 3:17 NRSVue]
We must help. We must provide health care for low-income people who have no health insurance because their state governments would not accept the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. As people of faith, we want the approximately 2.2 million Americans who live below the poverty line, primarily in Southern states and people of color, to have access to reliable health care. Many work to provide indispensable services for the community but are paid low wages and shut out of employer-based coverage. Without the expansion of Medicaid, they have no feasible way to obtain coverage. Since they are not eligible for Medicaid or premium tax credits, they are forced pay for health care out of pocket or go without needed care.
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic wrought a surge of deaths on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities because they did not have medical access. Many had financial concerns about paying medical bills which kept them from seeking timely care.
Now is the time to further correct the unjust healthcare system in the United States and insure that people living in poverty have medical insurance in every state.
“We must include the least of these, the poorest of the poor in this legislation,” stated Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Interim President and General Secretary. “It’s not too late to close the Medicaid gap for millions and prevent them from going without health care coverage for the foreseeable future. Jesus has told us, ‘just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.’ We cannot turn our backs yet again on providing life-giving health insurance. I call on our Senators to close the gap now!”
Medicaid must be expanded as an investment in the future of our nation. As Christians we hold dearly our directive to help all who are struggling in poverty and to heal those who are sick. The NCC will not rest until the Medicaid coverage gap is closed in every state.