Faith leaders and Working Together Mississippi call for action on Medicaid expansion

Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 7:25 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Medicaid expansion attempts at the State Capitol continue to be unsuccessful but Working Together Mississippi and a new set of voices are stepping in to say the cost of inaction is too high.

Healthcare is an issue that transcends religions. And several faith leaders gathered for a press conference Friday to say they’re realizing they need to voice that.

“Inaction or sins of omission as we say are no longer acceptable,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson.

“God does not ask us at the judgment day if we have decreased the size of government but God will ask us how we have treated the poor and how we’ve treated the most vulnerable among us,” noted Bishop Brian Seage with the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi.

In a letter they plan to deliver to the Governor and others Monday, they explain that Medicaid expansion would allow 300,000 of the state’s working poor who currently make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough for private qualify for coverage.

“This is the moral choice you have to face and you have to make,” described Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Coordinator Dr. Jason Coker. “And we all know, even you, what the right choice is. We’re simply begging our government to care for its own people. Will you?”

That same group saw the power of speaking up last summer when they pushed for changing the state flag and say, this too, can be done.

“People are saying that healthcare reform may not be for this time,” said Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Sr. of New Horizon Church International. “We believe it is. And we’re going to keep working together to encourage and push hard our various political leaders that it’s time.”

The group says one option is the plan first introduced by the Hospital Association in 2019.

“There is a proposal on the table that costs nothing to the state of Mississippi,” said Richard Robertson, Mississippi Hospital Association General Counsel and Vice President of Policy and State Advocacy.

Under the Mississippi Cares plan, hospital investments and personal premiums from plan members would help fund the needed 10% state share to match the 90% federal share.

“It’s cost the state billions of dollars in revenue,” noted Roberson. “It’s cost people their quality of life. And it’s time for some change. We’ve got to do something different. It’s the right thing to do from a human perspective and it’s time to do it now.”

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