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Miss. Catholic Charities Call for Medicaid Expansion

By Daniel Cherry | Published 20 Feb 2013 07:34pm | comments
Catholic Charities in Mississippi are calling on lawmakers to make Mississippi the next state to go through with expanding Medicaid. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, even though some say it's the right move, not all of those who are in charge agree.  
 
Lawmakers in the Mississippi legislature continue the fight over whether to expand Medicaid in the state. Catholics from across Mississippi came to the Capitol yesterday urging leaders to approve expansion. Monsignor Elvin Sunds with the Catholic Diocese of Jackson says it's the right thing to do.
 
"In the gospels we see the Good Samaritan story. How the Good Samaritan stopped and helped the man who was waylaid, who was robbed, and bound up his wounds. This is an opportunity for us as a state to bind up the wounds of those who are hurting. Those who have no health care."
 
But leading Republicans largely oppose expanding the program saying the state simply doesn't have the money to add 300 thousand low-income Mississippians to the Medicaid rolls. Hank Zuber, a Republican representative from Jackson County, is Catholic, but he doesn't agree with expansion.
 
"It's not something that's uniform in terms of position within the Church. There are a lot of perspectives and positions and opinions, and I respect everybody's opinion and position, but we just cannot afford it."
 
Under the Affordable Care Act states can expand Medicaid to residents making 138 percent of the federal poverty level or about 15 thousand dollars per year. Katherine Lingenfelder of Biloxi supports expansion because she thinks the current cutoff is too low to cover what advocates call the working poor.
 
"They maybe make too much in the eyes of the government, but they make too little that they can't afford any type of insurance, any type of medical costs. So their kids maybe go without medicine..."
 
Some studies say expanding Medicaid would cost Mississippi more than one billion dollars over the next ten years.
 

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