September 11, 2012 — A group of more than 100 religious leaders, including Catholic nuns, on Monday released a statement urging governors to implement the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) Medicaid expansion, Modern Healthcare reports (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 9/10).
The ACA calls for states, starting in January 2014, to set the income threshold for Medicaid eligibility at 133% of the federal poverty level for all citizens and for legal residents who have been in the country at least five years. In upholding constitutionality of the law as a whole, the Supreme Court said that the Medicaid expansion stands but that if states opt to not participate, the federal government cannot take away their existing Medicaid funding (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/28).
At least 15 governors have indicated that they will opt out of the Medicaid expansion, according to a review in July by The Hill. Many of them contend that funding the expansion would hurt state budgets, even though the federal government would cover the bulk of the costs at least until 2016.
The statement urges "governors who are considering refusing or have already refused to accept the [ACA]'s expansion of Medicaid to put the well-being of their constituents ahead of their political ideology and accept the Medicaid funding." It adds, "Depriving struggling families of healthcare is wholly incompatible with the teachings of our faiths and the ideals of our nation."
In a conference call that coincided with the statement's release, religious leaders downplayed governor's concerns about costs and stressed that expanding coverage would save lives. "Expanding access to affordable healthcare is a shared responsibility that is grounded in our common humanity," Elder Marco Grimaldo, president of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, said.
Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and Sister Simone Campbell, a social justice leader, were co-signers of the statement (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/10).
"As a person of faith who deeply values all life, it is a pro-life stance to make sure all of these folks are covered and have access to quality, affordable healthcare," said Campbell, who led a bus tour this summer to oppose the budget proposal written by GOP vice presidential nominee and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (Modern Healthcare, 9/10).
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