One of the issues to be debated in the Indiana General Assembly this session will be the Medicaid Expansion to help insure a vast majority of our Indiana population who have no health care insurance. Under a provision in the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay for 93 percent (during the next 10 years; and 90 percent thereafter) of the cost of insuring up to 438,000 Hoosier working parents with children (it also includes childless and unemployed adults); low-income retail, restaurant, child care and construction workers; and budding business owners and entrepreneurs. This one provision, if enacted, could cut the number of uninsured Hoosiers by more than half.
For this provision to kick in, the State of Indiana must make a small, low-risk, high-return investment in strong and secure working families.
This investment amounts to about $54 million dollars per year during the next decade, which is less than a three percent increase above current Medicaid spending levels, and slightly higher than the forecasted two percent increase in state revenues during the next two years, according to one estimate.
However, it’s the return on that investment that can energize United Methodists to come together in a spirit of solidarity during this once-in-a generation opportunity. The return can not only be measured in moral and social justice terms, it also can be measured in terms of benefits to the community resulting in a healthier and more productive workforce; more job-creating, competitive businesses; greater community cohesion and benefits to working families. Hopefully, this action will result in greater personal responsibility for staying healthy, for healthier children and for better success in school and an increase in disposable family income.
Moral and Social Justice imperative
Ezekiel 34:4a says that God reminds us that maintaining health for the “orphan, the widow and the stranger” is both a government responsibility and a responsibility that each of us owes to other members of our community.
This Judeo-Christian principle of communal and individual stewardship for health outweighs the belief of some who believe providing health coverage for those unable to afford it rewards them for doing little to obtain adequate health coverage. They also believe this removes any incentive for them to behave responsibly.
One of John Wesley’s lasting legacies as the 18th century founder of Methodism is his holistic approach towards spiritual and physical health, emphasizing vigorous exercise, cleanliness, fresh air and a healthy diet. Wesley also advocated care for the disadvantaged in society and wanted to make sure that all had access to the medical care of the day. The founding of dozens of Methodist hospitals (including three in Indiana) during the early 20th century is a direct result of Wesley’s holistic health legacy, as is the General Conference of The United Methodist Church’s support of the Affordable Care Act, along with expansion of the Medicaid program.
Expanding Medicaid will strengthen Hoosier working families by:
- Removing insurmountable barriers to doctor-recommended preventive care and regular access to a primary care doctor and prescription drugs;
- Dramatically increasing basic financial security and reducing stress, enable family members to have greater success in school, work and caring for their children;
- Expanding the income of the lower income familes (family incomes in the $13,000 to $32,000 range) also contributes by as much as 50 to 75 percent; to the economic health of the community.
Hoosier United Methodist support
Members of the Indiana Conference Social Advocacy Team are in discussion with more than 40 health care, other faith-based groups and non-profit organizations related directly to health issues, such as the American Heart Association, to gain grassroots support for an Indiana Medicaid Expansion program in supporting the health of all Hoosiers. Your support is needed in communicating with your Indiana State Senators and Representatives, many of whom want to let the federal government establish a Medicaid Expansion program for our state.
In the next few weeks, legislation will be introduced for an Indiana Medicaid Expansion program to assure health care for the vast majority of Hoosiers, something that is not being done currently. Learn about this legislation and contact your senator and representative to list your support of such an expansion. Also, advocates of this legislation will be creating a website to explain the legislation and why your support is necessary and explaining how to contact your elected representatives if you are not familiar with this process.
Now is the time to call upon Hoosier United Methodist clergy and laity (including business owners and employers of low-income workers) to contact and mobilize their friends and fellow United Methodists in support of Medicaid Expansion legislation by the 2013 Indiana State Legislature.
In the meantime, visit the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society website (umc-gbcs.org) based in Washington, D.C., and search Medicaid to gain an understanding of this and other issues related to the health care of Americans.
Daniel R. Gangler
This one provision, if enacted, could cut the number of uninsured Hoosiers by more than half.