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Press Release: Medicaid Letter Signed by Over 1300 Catholic Sisters, Priests and Brothers Delivered to Pennsylvania Governor Today

FOR RELEASE: March 20, 2013

CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 ext. 224,  sniedringhaus@networklobby.org   

Washington DC: More than 1300 Catholic Sisters, Priests and Brothers from 19 different congregations signed a letter to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett calling on him to end his opposition to Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania. The letter, which is being hand-delivered to Governor Corbett’s office today, pointed out that refusing to expand Medicaid would “breach the moral duty” to Pennsylvania’s families in need. The governor recently announced his opposition to accepting federal funding for expansion of health coverage to more low-income people in his state.

The signers, along with other members of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, have requested a meeting with the governor to discuss their experiences working with Pennsylvanians directly impacted by his decision.

The June 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) ruled that states could not be required to expand Medicaid to include people up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Some governors, including Governor Corbett, indicated they would oppose expansion in their states. This is despite the fact that 11% of Pennsylvanians, including 232,000 children, lack health insurance.

As noted in the letter, Medicaid expansion “would provide health care for up to 700,000 Pennsylvanians who currently lack coverage, while simultaneously offering Pennsylvania tremendous cost savings opportunities, including savings on uncompensated care costs, behavioral health expenses, immunizations, and other costs currently borne by our state.”

Catholic Sisters and others hope to discuss Medicaid expansion with Governor Corbett as soon as possible.

A copy of the letter follows:

The Honorable Tom Corbett
Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Dear Governor Corbett:

We, the undersigned Catholic Women and Men Religious serving low-income and vulnerable families and individuals in Pennsylvania, strongly urge you to accept the federal funding available to provide health coverage to include all persons who earn less than 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Our Catholic faith tradition and Catholic Social Justice Teaching call us to advocate for the right of all human beings to have access to the basic necessities that enable them to live productive lives with dignity. Among those is the right to affordable healthcare. Failure to expand Medicaid as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act will breach the moral duty to those who are on the margins of society.

Tragically, 11 percent of our population in Pennsylvania, 232,000 children and 1.1 million adults, are currently uninsured. People who lack insurance delay or refrain from obtaining routine or preventive care because it is cost prohibitive. Instead, they go to the hospital after they have become very sick. This results in more complicated, expensive, and uncompensated care that could have been avoided by affordable primary healthcare.

Expanding Medicaid would provide healthcare for up to 700,000 Pennsylvanians who currently lack coverage, while simultaneously offering Pennsylvania tremendous cost savings opportunities, including savings on uncompensated care costs, behavioral health expenses, immunizations, and other costs currently borne by our state. Factoring in the costs for lost productivity at work, separation from families, decreased spending in the commercial arena, and less involvement in the communities due to largely avoidable and extended illnesses, the Medicaid expansion is highly cost-effective.

A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that expanding Medicaid would save our state $878 million in uncompensated care costs alone between 2013 and 2022. The federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs of expansion for the first three years and at least 90 percent of the cost thereafter. Expansion would result in $43 billion in federal money coming into our state’s economy over a 10-year period increasing revenue and benefiting hospitals, healthcare providers, and the patients they serve. In addition, the multiplier effect from the infusion of money will strengthen businesses and stimulate local economies. 

Our Catholic faith calls us to respond to the needs of the disabled, the impoverished, and the downtrodden. The Medicaid expansion is an unparalleled opportunity to provide affordable health insurance for uninsured Pennsylvanians. We urge you to take action to ensure that the Pennsylvania Medicaid program is expanded so that more of our vulnerable sisters and brothers will have access to healthcare.

We thank you in advance for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you about this issue.

Sincerely,

Mary Beth Hamm SSJ, Social Justice Coordinator, Sisters of Saint Joseph, Philadelphia

Diane Guerin RSM, Social Justice Coordinator, Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Region

Donna Korba IHM, Social Justice Coordinator, Sister Servants of IHM, Scranton

…plus more than 1300 Women and Men Religious from the following Congregations:

Benedictine Sisters, Erie PA; Benedictine Sisters, Pittsburgh PA; Benedictine Sisters, St. Mary’s PA; Bernardine Franciscans, Reading PA; Brothers of the Christian Schools; Congregation of Notre Dame; Daughters of Charity, Philadelphia PA; Felician Sisters, Coraopolis, PA; Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, Yardley PA; Order of St. Augustinian, Villanova PA; Sisters of Divine Providence, Pittsburgh PA; Sisters of the Holy Redeemer, Huntingdon Valley PA; Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Region; Sisters of St. Francis, Aston PA; Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia PA; Sisters of St. Joseph, Baden PA; Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern PA; Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Immaculata PA; Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton PA.

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