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Bishops urge state to fund Medicaid expansion

Hyde Amendment which blocks Medicaid funding of abortions called critical

The Missouri Catholic bishops have urged the state legislature to fund Medicaid expansion while acknowledging the pro-life concerns of threats to the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits public funding of abortions.

“We encourage the Missouri General Assembly to fund expansion of this program so the working poor and others who are eligible can access the health care they need and deserve. If the General Assembly chooses not to fund Medicaid expansion, we believe they have a moral obligation to provide an alternative means of providing access to healthcare for the working poor,” the bishops stated.

The statement of the Missouri Catholic Conference on current legislative considerations of Medicaid expansion was released April 13 to the Missouri House and Senate. The same day, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Louis issued a call to action to people on its legislative network to ask state senators to fund expansion of Medicaid eligibility.

In the fall of 2019, the Missouri bishops expressed support for the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative, passed by the state’s voters, stating that “we offer our support for this effort because of the unmet health care needs of the working poor and to ensure the continued delivery of care to those who need it most through the Missouri health care system.”

Opponents to the funding cite a danger that the Hyde Amendment will be terminated in the near future, allowing governmental funding of abortions if their mothers are covered by Medicaid.

In their April 13 statement, the bishops wrote that it is critical that the Hyde Amendment be maintained.

The bishops explained to legislators that “focusing solely on the aspects of Medicaid related to abortion, as fundamental as that is to the moral principle of the dignity of all human life, reduces legislators’ work to a false dichotomy. Health care policy is complex and health care decisions involve many facets. A vote for or against Medicaid or Medicaid expansion should not be interpreted as a decision between being pro-life or pro-choice. We urge lawmakers to work toward legislation which protects the lives of the unborn and provides for the critical health care needs of the working poor. These two goods are not opposed.”

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