Ohio House Republican leaders are expected to unveil a state budget proposal today that would strip Governor John Kasich’s proposed Medicaid expansion from the two-year state budget, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
But members of BREAD, a interfaith coalition that represents over 50 faith congregations in central Ohio, are not ready to give up on expanding Medicaid. Faith leaders and health care officials spoke on the issue yesterday evening at a BREAD organizing rally at Congregation Tifereth Israel.
“We want the state of Ohio to accept an offer of federal funding for a fairly modest expansion of the Medicaid program,” said Bishop William Polley of Zion Christian Assembly.
Members of the House who reject expanding Medical are motivated by dislike of President Obama and his policies, Polley said. “But Medicaid expansion is about providing health coverage to the working poor. Rejecting Medicare expansion out of rage against President Obama is punishing the poor, not the President.”
“Analysis shows that Medicaid expansion would not only keep covered people healthier, and therefore more likely to be working, but would also add 27,000 more health care-related jobs to our state,” said Tracy Moebius of the First Unitarian Universalist Church.
“It’s important to note that expanding Medicaid is not the same thing as endorsing the Affordable Care Act,” Moebius said. “In fact, many different groups, such as Ohio Right to Life and the Ohio Catholic Conference, who are opposed to Obamacare, favor expanding Medicaid in Ohio.
“A survey of faith traditions represented in BREAD shows unanimous support for the expansion of Medicaid,” she said.
One of the myths about Medicaid expansion “is that we need to turn down the federal money because it would increase the debt,” said John McCarthy, Medicaid director at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. “As the governor said earlier today, if we don’t use it to cover people here, the federal government is going to spend it on something else. So why not bring it back to Ohio and use it to cover people here?”
“A welcoming community does not turn its back on individuals and families who are troubled with mental illness and addictions,” Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health, who attended the rally with her young son Felix.
“Felix and I were reading some of his Bible stories on Saturday, and we came upon the story of the Good Samaritan,” Plouck said. “Members of the General Assembly have a choice to make. They can be like the priests who walk by, and provide lip service to the idea of being a public servant, or they can be like the Good Samaritan, the person who took the time to assist the person who was struggling at the side of the road, who did not have the support he needed to go on and be productive.”
Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage is organizing a rally to support Medicare expansion at the Ohio Statehouse at 12 noon on Thursday.