LEBANON, Tenn. – Rev. Matt Steinhauer of the Faith Lutheran Church (ELCA) released the following statement regarding TennCare work requirements:

“My son is on Medicaid. My wife and I have the resources and flexibility of schedules to follow up on information and track down errors in billing before or after a doctor’s visit when necessary. Although I’ve heard that there would be an exemption for Intellectual Disability, which is my son’s case, I know Tennessee’s antiquated TennCare computer system and lack of caseworkers would mean likely errors that might still catch us (and his healthcare) by surprise and cause potential future harm. That would be enough reason to speak against ‘work requirements.’

“But there are even deeper reasons to speak against this ill-conceived and compassion-lacking proposal. In the church in which I serve as pastor, we host homeless men and women two nights each week from December through March. Many of these women and men work. Some of them or their children are covered by TennCare.

“If they have to periodically update information regarding their work history here are some of the potential challenges and pitfalls: They are staying in a different place every night of their life. The host church may or may not have wireless access. They may or may not have any minutes left on their phone service. They may or may not be physically or mentally capable of navigating websites and surveys and checklists. Every day of their life they face challenges totally unknown to people who have never engaged with or known first hand these most vulnerable of our neighbors.

“If the Tennessee State Legislature will publicly proclaim that their religion has nothing to do with their policies, then I will not play the ‘Jesus’ card. But if they campaign and publicly proclaim themselves as Christians (I have checked the State of Tennessee Legislature website and most of them do), then I must ask them to remember the very people who will be affected by their proposed work requirements are all Jesus. They will be doing to Jesus what they are doing to the poor and working poor on Medicaid. (Matthew 25).”

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