The bishops – Thomas Bickerton of the Western Pennsylvania (regional) Conference, Peggy Johnson of Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, and Jeremiah Park of the Susquehanna Conference – met with the governor and a series of legislators on Monday, March 11. Among the legislators were House Speaker Sam Smith and House Republican Policy Chair Rep. David Reed. Both are active United Methodists.
As they met with the governor in his Capitol office, they presented him with a letter urging him to “take the necessary steps to enact Medicaid expansion within our Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” They also sent a similar letter to each member of the General Assembly.
Citing Scripture, the bishops said a requirement for faithful living is “to do what is just… As members of our 2,300 congregations across Pennsylvania experience anxiety and despair because they cannot afford health care, we believe if one suffers, all suffer.”
Expansion of Medicaid, they said, will bring health care coverage to nearly 1 million more Pennsylvanians. Under the new law, the federal government will pay for the majority of the costs during the first three years. That means an additional $43 billion in federal support for health care in Pennsylvania.
“Health care is the justice issue of our day, and by your action, Governor Corbett, to join governors across the country that are joining in Medicaid expansion, we will be found faithful,” the bishops said. They sent a similar letter to members of the House and Senate.
During their 45-minute meeting, they presented the governor with an inscribed Bible signed by each bishop.
TEXT OF LETTER TO GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT
March 11, 2013
The Honorable Tom Corbett
Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Dear Governor Corbett:
As United Methodists, we believe that health care is a right.
This belief calls us to prayer for, healing of, and to do justice with persons who carry the burden of being uninsured and are trapped in a cycle of fear, economic hardship and delayed care.
This belief compels us to join our prophetic voice and witness and ask you to take the necessary steps to enact Medicaid expansion within our Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Through scripture the prophet Micah reminds us that a requirement for faithful living is “to do what is just.” (Micah 6.8) Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming, “The Spirit of God has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” (Luke 4.18).
As members of our 2,300 congregations across Pennsylvania experience anxiety and despair because they cannot afford health care, we believe that if one suffers, we all suffer. As we are in ministry with them, we know the worry of the lingering cough, the tiredness that does not go away and the check-up and tests that remain unscheduled and undone.
Reason tells us that expansion of Medicaid will bring health care coverage to nearly a million more citizens of the Commonwealth. Reports and data show us that for the first three years of the program the federal government will pay the majority of the costs, adding an additional $43 billion to the state budget.
As people of faith, we seek to do what is just for persons that are marginalized and made to feel small. It was we who passed Child Labor Laws and reformed our education system. It was we who marched for Civil Rights, and demanded a fair wage for workers.
Health Care is the justice issue of our day and by your action, Governor Corbett, to join governors across the country that are joining in Medicaid expansion we will be found faithful.
With prayerful support for courage and wisdom for our elected leaders to do what is right for our shared common good and girded by the belief that health care is a right, we urge you to take the steps necessary so all Pennsylvanians have access to expanded Medicaid.
We ask God’s blessings on you and your service to every Pennsylvanian.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Thomas Bickerton
Bishop Peggy Johnson
Bishop Jeremiah Park
Contact: Stephen Drachler717.