Each day, more than 800,000 Hoosiers under the age of 65 wake up without health insurance coverage. Many of them live without treatment until their condition becomes more severe and more costly to diagnose and cure. Too often when they do seek treatment, it is in the most expensive way – the hospital emergency room. Hoosier businesses and individuals pay higher health insurance bills to cover costs shifted from the uninsured, and we all pay more in taxes to support local and state public health programs.
As leaders in our faith traditions, we are called to reach out to the poor and society’s marginalized. As a society, we believe we are all responsible for the under-advantaged, literally widows and orphans, and people who are disabled or do not make enough income to provide for the health-care needs of themselves and their families. We are leaders of the faith community that believe all are equal in the sight of God.
We believe that Medicaid expansion will help all of us by providing health care to lower-income workers and the marginalized among us, if the Indiana General Assembly chooses to approve legislation and the Governor is willing to sign it into law. We are concerned about the General Assembly’s current plan to expand health-care coverage through the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). Today HIP meets the needs of less than 40,000 low-income Hoosiers, while over twice as many applicants remain on a waiting list. We raise concern about whether HIP can be expanded to cover up to 450,000 Hoosiers who would otherwise qualify for coverage under Medicaid expansion. We also are concerned about the real risk that the federal government will reject this approach since it includes up-front contributions and caps on coverage not required anywhere else in the county.
The availability of billions in new federal dollars for Indiana provides the General Assembly with a unique opportunity this session to expand our Medicaid program as provided for in the federal Affordable Care Act. We believe Governor Pence needs to support this approach – an approach that guarantees without limitation comprehensive, affordable coverage to low-income, mostly working Hoosiers who need a helping hand. If Hoosier lawmakers don’t take advantage of the opportunity to expand Medicaid, the billions in federal dollars available to Indiana – tax dollars paid by us all – will go to other states that are moving forward with Medicaid expansion.
As leaders of faith communities in Indiana, we affirm the following values as they pertain to health care:
Health care, including mental health care, should be available to all citizens in the United States;
Access to health care should be continuous;
- Health care should be affordable for individuals, families and businesses;
- National and state health care policy should be affordable and sustainable for society;
- Health care should enhance health and well-being by promoting access to high-quality care that is effective, efficient, safe, timely, patient-centered and equitable; and
- Health care providers should not be expected to assume a disproportionate share of the cost of providing care.
In addition to the moral basis for expanding Medicaid, expansion makes financial sense. With expansion, studies indicate that between $14 and $26 billion in additional federal funds will flow into Indiana between now and 2020. These dollars would strengthen Indiana’s economy, specifically supporting our hospital and health systems, the hundreds of thousands of people they employ and the tens of thousands of new jobs they would create.
We believe that the Medicaid Expansion provided for in the ACA is fiscally responsible and consistent with our values, our principles and the historic commitment across our multiple faith groups. We, therefore, offer our support by asking Governor Pence and our legislators to expand Medicaid as called for in the Affordable Care Act during this current session of the General Assembly.
Bishop Michael J. Coyner,
Indiana Area, The United Methodist Church
Bishop Catherine Waynick,
Diocese of Indianapolis, The Episcopal Church
Bishop Bill Gafkjen,
Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. Richard Spleth,
Indiana Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)