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Missouri bishops support initiative for Medicaid expansion

Proposal expands coverage to low-income workers making up to 133% of poverty level

The Missouri Catholic bishops are supporting a ballot initiative to expand the Medicaid program in Missouri.

The bishops issued a statement in support of the initiative through their public policy agency, the Missouri Catholic Conference.

“We wish to express our support for the current effort to expand the Missouri Medicaid (MO HealthNet) program,” the bishops stated. “MO HealthNet currently provides health coverage to Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, and children. It plays a vital role in sustaining the health care delivery system in our state.”

The initiative proposes to expand Missouri’s Medicaid program to low-income workers making up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Missouri’s Medicaid program currently covers the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women and children, but only covers low-income workers making up to 22% of FPL.

If sufficient signatures are gathered, the initiative would appear on the ballot in the fall of 2020. Medicaid expansion was included as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010, in order to provide coverage to low-income workers who aren’t able to afford health care insurance premiums. Since the passage of the ACA, 36 states and the District of Columbia have chosen to expand their Medicaid programs.

In Catholic ministries throughout the state, the bishops stated, “we find that there are still many Missouri citizens who lack access to affordable health care coverage that is so necessary for human flourishing. We, therefore, support expanding the program to cover low-income workers, since doing so will help lead to better health outcomes for them and enhance their ability to continue working to support themselves and their families.”

The bishops added that they recognize that some may not agree with expanding Medicaid through a constitutional amendment or bypassing the state legislative process. But, “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, including Missouri’s Catholic hospitals. We offer this support understanding that current federal law includes pro-life protections in Medicaid through the Hyde Amendment.”

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