Faith Leaders Say Medicaid Expansion Is A Moral Imperative
Gov. Lee must address vulnerabilities in Tennessee’s healthcare system
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Earlier today, three pastors, Rev. Jim Sessions, Retired United Methodist Pastor in Knoxville; Rev. Gordon Myers, Pastor at Living Word Lutheran Church, Arlington; and Rev. Jared Ruari of Shelbyville held a phone press conference calling on Gov. Lee and State Legislators to expand Medicaid in Tennessee, supporting an open letter put forward by the Southern Christian Coalition. The pastors spoke about the urgency of expanding access to healthcare, highlighting the vulnerabilities and need exposed by the tornadoes that struck Middle Tennessee last week and the impending need as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads through our state. They especially urged Governor Lee, who named himself a “man of faith” when running for office, to put his faith into practice while responding to these crises by addressing the systemic vulnerabilities that exacerbate the effects. While Tennessee has been put in a State of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19, there are still roughly 332,000 uninsured Tennesseans that have no realistic access to health insurance.
“I’m very concerned with the direction of public health in Tennessee. Gov. Lee has declared a state of emergency in response to concern for the spread of Coronavirus, but our state legislature is failing to even consider Medicaid expansion—the most obvious path towards coverage for an additional 300,000 Tennesseans,” said Rev. Jared Rauri, who serves a congregation in Shelbyville, TN. “It should be especially clear during a pandemic that the health of our state depends on the health of each and every resident.”
“Our state legislature is attempting to make the Bible our state book but we are actively ignoring Jesus’ central concern with care for the sick and vulnerable,” said Rev. Jared Ruari. During this time of crisis, it is even more imperative that we focus on the health of each resident by focusing on the importance of expanding Medicaid.
“Expansion is a moral imperative for people of faith who take Jesus’ words seriously to care for the ‘least of these’ within our State. It is the right thing to do,” said Rev. Gordon Myers. When we are caring for God’s children in need, we are giving praise to him. If we are willing to make the Bible our state book, we should first follow the words written inside and expand Medicaid to those living without health care during this time of emergency in Tennessee.”
“People of faith sing Joy to the World NO EXCEPTIONS. But in Tennessee our state government makes exceptions. They refuse that lifeline – that gift of life and good health to 1.5 million Tennesseans. We call upon our state leaders to choose life and health for its citizens – our sisters and brothers throughout the state facing suffering as never before. Choose life not death,” said Rev. Jim Sessions.
Conference recording linked below