Pope Calls Healthcare Universal Good, Missouri Considers Medicaid

At a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI said that healthcare is a universal good and should not be reserved only for those who can afford it. The pope’s comments are timely as Missouri considers whether to expand Medicaid health coverage for working parents who cannot afford private health insurance.

Missouri has one of the lowest Medicaid eligibility levels for working parents – 18 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), or up to 35 percent of FPL when earned income is disregarded. That means a mom with two children can only qualify if her yearly income is at or lower than $6,682. Prior to Medicaid cuts in 2005 many more working parents qualified for health coverage. They could have an income up to 75 percent of FPL. Medicaid is important to these parents, who often cannot afford the private insurance offered by their employer.

Leaders of the Missouri General Assembly have indicated they will oppose expanding Medicaid, while Governor Nixon is supporting the expansion. Billions of federal dollars are at stake. It should make for an interesting debate in the general assembly.

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