Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Faith Community Rallies in Springfield for Medicaid Expansion

Roughly 250 participants join in song at the beginning of Thursday's rally inside Central Assembly of God in Springfield.

With the theme of human dignity and moral leadership, a Thursday night rally by Springfield Faith Voices aimed to convince the Missouri Legislature to expand Medicaid.

Dubbed the largest, most diverse group of its kind in a Springfield house of worship, an estimated 250 some people representing roughly 35 faith organizations around the region attended the event, held at Central Assembly of God in Springfield.

That diverse group of religions, as noted by Reverend Kenneth Chumbley, rector at Christ Episcopal Church, hold some common values.  

“We are one. One in our faith in God. A God we know as love. And one in our concern for struggling people,” Chumbley said.

Chumbley was among many speakers throughout the rally, which included signs labeled “Medicaid: A Moral Issue” among the crowd. Dr. David Redfern spoke of the coverage gap created in Missouri for those that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for subsidies on the marketplace, or exchange. Rev. Dr. Micki Pulleyking equated expanding Medicaid to creating a miracle for the state’s poor citizens, noting that it’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican, but “about what it means to be a human being."

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who has been pushing the Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature to expand Medicaid the past two sessions, readdressed recent arguments for such a bill. He mentioned jobs cuts in the medical industry, a growing amount of money paid in federal taxes by Missourians that is being used to expand Medicaid in other states, plus the idea that for some, the best way to get health care is to quit your job.

“Friends when it's easier to get health care by losing your job than taking one, that's a broken system,” Nixon said.

Yet the Governor remains positive in his quest to expand the Medicaid rolls as state lawmakers have actively debated this legislation recently. In keeping with the human dignity theme for the night, Nixon referenced what he believes are shared values held by Missourians that will propel an expansion.

“Helping our neighbors in need, keeping our fiscal discipline, rewarding work, giving every Missourian the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential. Now I am optimistic about getting Medicaid across the finish line this year because it is consistent with all those values.”

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Nixon called Republican Sen. John Lamping, a staunch opponent of Medicaid expansion, a man of “deep faith,” adding he thinks that “these moral arguments resonate.”

Earlier this month, Lamping and fellow Republican Senator Ryan Silvey were the focus of a testy 20-minute exchange where Lamping accused Silvey of taking the easy way out for Silvey’s support of Medicaid expansion, as reported by the News-Leader.

Bishop Emeritus Rev. John Leibrecht, another speaker at Thursday’s rally, spoke of the moral vision for a society, and mentioned several principals which he and his fellow bishops offer their Catholic communities. They includes the notion that all human life is sacred, full human development takes place in relationships with others, and those who are weak deserve preferential concern. Liebrecht added that in light of those principals, bishops ask the following:

“First, focus more on moral principles than the latest polls. Second, focus more on the needs of the weak, than the benefits of the strong. Third, focus more on the pursuit of the common good than the demands of narrow interests,” Leibrecht said.

Participants at Thursday’s rally each received a card that, among other things, asked them to call their senator and representative about supporting Medicaid expansion.