People who do not support ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion aren’t very good Christians. So says Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Last Tuesday, when asked about his expansion of Medicaid, Kasich replied, “Now, if you ever read Matthew 25, I think, ‘I wanna feed the hungry and clothe the naked,’ and I have to tell you — I read a horrible story in The Wall Street Journal on the weekend about people, one man in particular freezing to death over in Montana. And they’ve turned down about half a billion dollars of help, I’m told. That disturbs me.”
This is not the first time Kasich, a Republican, has emphasized how important supporting Medicaid is to Christianity. In his 2013 State of the State address, he said that his belief in Medicaid expansion was grounded in his personal faith. He explained that his support came from lessons he learned “from the Good Book…I gotta tell you, I can’t look at the disabled, I can’t look at the poor, I can’t look at the mentally ill, I can’t look at the addicted and think we ought to ignore them.”
In June, Kasich upped the ante by telling a state legislator, “Now, when you die and get to the, get to the, uh, to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not gonna ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he’s going to ask you what you did for the poor. Better have a good answer.”
King Solomon, in all of his wisdom, could not have been more eloquent.
Shockingly, the Ohio Legislature, controlled by Republicans, didn’t heed Kasich’s warning of eternal damnation and decided against expanding Medicaid. The Heathens!
But Saint Kasich was not deterred. Using his executive authority, he unilaterally expanded Medicaid late last year.
It turns out that expanding Medicaid, even via executive fiat, is indeed an act of Christian charity. Shortly after the Ohio expansion, the cloudy skies above Kasich opened up, and a voice from heaven proclaimed, “This is my beloved Governor, with whom I am well pleased. ”
For those of you unfamiliar with the segment of Matthew 25 that Kasich alluded to, it reads:
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you used government to force people to give me something to eat, I was thirsty and you used government to force people to give me something to drink, I was a stranger and you used government to force people to invite me in, I needed clothes and you used government to force people to clothe me, I was sick and you used government to force people to look after me, I was in prison and you used government to force people to come visit me.
Of course, some aspects of Medicaid are un-Godly. For example, among all physicians, nearly one-third are no longer seeing new Medicaid patients and that number may well be over 45 percent for some specialists. The most likely reason is that Medicaid’s reimbursement rates are among the lowest of all health care plans.
Then there are the access problems. Medicaid patients have more difficulty getting timely appointments with primary care physicians, specialists and ambulatory clinics than patients with private insurance. Medicaid patients are far more likely to go to the emergency room for care versus patients with private insurance. For the most part, they are going because they need the care, not because they are there for some minor ailment.
Nor is Medicaid particularly efficient. The U.S. spends over $415 billion on Medicaid, and, according to the Oregon health experiment, Medicaid has no noticeable impact on patient health. Other research suggests that children at hospitals that are more reliant on Medicaid funding have more adverse events. Similarly, patients with Medicaid are more likely to be be diagnosed with late-stage cancer than patients with private insurance who are more likely to receive diagnoses at earlier stages.
However, only the uncharitable would say that we shouldn’t expand Medicaid. As Kasich is showing us, it is the duty of all good Christians everywhere to repair it. That means supporting more Medicaid funding.
Finally, what about the man who froze to death in Montana? In January 2007, 48-year-old Bryan Dennis was found dead of hypothermia in a truck at a U-Haul store in Bozeman. He was unemployed at the time and had been staying in motels. He’d told a friend he was going to sleep in U-Haul trucks.
The Heathens will no doubt point out that, based on the scant details, it’s not clear that a Medicaid expansion such as Kasich’s would have helped this man. They might also ask why it was the responsibility of the government—i.e., taxpayers far away from Montana—to help this man and not the responsibility of the people who were in close proximity to him?
But those are the concerns of the heartless. As Governor Kasich has reminded us, using government to force people to help the poor is the same as Christian charity. After all, when you meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, one of the questions you will have to answer is, “Did you support a generous Federal Matching Percentage?”