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Cassandra Gould

Executive director of Missouri Faith Voices, Religious Affairs Director for MO Conference NAACP and Faith Co-Chair for State Board Jobs with Justice

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

As a faith leader and executive director of Missouri Faith Voices, I work with hundreds of faith leaders across religious traditions in Missouri. Over the last several years advocating for Medicaid expansion has allowed us to see firsthand how Medicaid expansion would benefit many deserving Missourians.

I take exception to your recent opinion piece against Medicaid expansion because the facts show that Medicaid expansion would improve the well-being of Missourians and help improve our bottom line. Not only will it provide critical access to health care for more than 230,000 Missourians so they can stay healthy, continue to work and support their families; it will provide approximately 16,000 new jobs annually and save our state $39 million in the first year of expansion alone.

For people of faith Medicaid Expansion is not a matter of entitlement but a matter of inclusion. Your references to Obamacare suggest that partisanship has more value than the well-being of people. We all deserve a Missouri where people's well-being and health are not subjected to political machinations.

The law guarantees the federal government would cover 90 percent of the costs to expand our Medicaid program, each year. Suggesting the federal government may default on their payments is fear mongering with no basis in fact. Furthermore, hard-working Missourians have already paid these funds through federal taxes. Missourians deserve for these funds to be used in Missouri, and not passed off to other states. Research shows that by 2022, if we do not expand our Medicaid program, we will have paid $7.3 billion to the federal government to be used by other states to expand their Medicaid programs, while the most vulnerable in our communities suffer.

Missouri Faith Voice is a multi-faith and multiracial organization. While our religious beliefs vary, we all agree Medicaid expansion is right for Missouri. As faith leaders we are deeply invested in the well-being of our communities. Economic opportunity is a key component to that well-being.

On Aug. 4, we have an opportunity to offer more than thoughts and prayers in the midst of a pandemic, we have an opportunity to help all Missourians stay healthy and safe.

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