Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Medicaid Expansion

 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Columnist John Brummett wrote a piece titled A Worthless Sacrifice to appear in Sundays print edition. It is currently online and is starting to create a buzz. For some reason I am unable to post a comment, update my avatar or do anything else on the site so I am posting my reply here.

The responsibility to care for the least of these falls to both the individual and the government. As some have already used Biblical text, howbeit out of context, allow me to continue looking to the same source.

We read in Genesis 41:25-42 how Joseph by the instruction of God told Pharaoh to gather from all the harvest and store it to be redistributed to everyone in the land when there was need. Exodus 23:6-11 (especially v10-11) describes how landowners were obligated by law to feed the hungry. Isaiah 10:1-3 and Amos 5:11-12 explain that governments are instructed to show justice to the poor. Jeremiah brought a scorching message (see chapter 22) about governments responsibility towards its poorest citizens.

While the story of Joseph and Pharaoh was regarding a particular event, doesn't it make sense, good sense to follow that principle? The law of Moses according to Exodus 23 institutionalized way of providing for the poor that did not depend on the good will of the individual. Yes, individual generosity was encouraged but, as a matter of law, part of everyone's produce or income was to be set aside to aid the poor.

What we call the Old Testament is full of stories of personal and government responsibility to the least of these. In the New Testament we read that Jesus had some important things to say about the subject: Matthew 22:37-39; 25:31-46.

Jesus' commands to love and care for others were given as universals, without exempting any human organizations or institutions. All human institutions, governments and businesses included, are responsible to care for others --- especially since individual or private charity can never be or do enough.

Biblical narrative aside, medicaid expansion makes sense. We are paying Federal taxes for the program. Doesn't it make sense that we receive the benefits we are paying for? Expansion means more people will have access to healthcare. More access to healthcare means more people are healthy. Healthy people are productive people. This benefits the individual and society.

Did I mention that Medicaid expansion could lead to an increase of $550 million to our state's GDP and create 6,200 new jobs?

In short, Medicaid expansion benefits everyone. How is this not a good thing?