Happy Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. I could write on the Mystery of the Trinity, but today am tackling an even more inscrutable mystery, MEDICAID EXPANSION. I know this is weighty stuff, but part of the WORK that we followers of Jesus are expected to do is to become informed and then to judge and most importantly to act. We need to put our faith into action.
The Texas Catholic Conference, which is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Texas, had a legislative agenda for the last session of the Texas Legislature. If you go on their website at this impossible address: http://www.txcatholic.org/#!84th-Texas-Legislature-Ends-Texas-Catholic-Bishops-Achieve-Numerous-Public-Policy-Goals/cjds/5570a7d90cf293eac7fb80b9, you will see their legislative scorecard. It is impressive. They were pretty successful. However, one area in red, meaning a loss, was MEDICAID EXPANSION. This work still needs to be done. Here is what the Bishops say on their website: “Legislators budgeted $61.2 billion for Medicaid, but it almost certainly won't be enough, requiring more money before the biennial budget cycle is through. They also continued to oppose expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, continuing to forgo billions in federal aid.” The point is that this money is money that could really help people in need. Without it people will be hurting.
So I encourage you first of all to get informed. There is a simplified paper on all this information on our parish website at http://www.staustin.com/bulletin. It gives you good background on this, and also explains why now is such a critical juncture. It has to do with the Federal Government’s renewal of a band aid called a “1115 Waiver”, and the Feds insistence that they will no longer renew this from here on out. You can also read about it on the Texas Catholic Bishops’ website at http://www.txcatholic.org/#!health-and-human-services/c15lf.
Then, consistent with your faith and Jesus’ commandment to put our faith into action, judge what you think should be done.
Next, act! We don’t need more armchair experts, but more people who live their faith. If you are a citizen of Texas, let your State Representative and State Senator know you care about this issue. Send them an email or letter. It is easy to do. Go to http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/find-your-representative and type in your address. You will get your US and Texas State senators and representatives. Click on their websites and send them a message. Finally, go vote. That is the most effective way of registering your concern and opinion.
If Christians keep quiet then we abdicate the field to those who are only looking after themselves. Our Bishops give us direction and guidance, but they cannot do it on their own. Each of us as a citizen, and even more so as a Christian, has a responsibility to speak up for those who are hurting. Medicaid expansion is a concrete and practical way to do that. And now is the time to get involved.