March 18, 2013
Dear Governor Pence,
Thank you for your service to the State of Indiana and your commitment to improving the quality of life for all Hoosiers. I remember from your leadership in vespers and bible study while we were both at Hanover College that you are committed to giving witness to your Christian faith through the beliefs you espouse and the decisions you make.
After graduating from Hanover, I worked for Senator Richard Lugar as his Assistant State Director for Constituent Services. When Senator Lugar left office in January, I joined the staff of Lafayette Urban Ministry. I am writing you in my new capacity as Program Director for Healthy Families and Sustainable Communities to urge you to approve Medicaid expansion. As you are no doubt aware many hardworking families are not able to afford health care coverage and are often forced to choose between feeding their children and seeking medical treatment. Most of the 450,000 Hoosiers who would be helped by Medicaid expansion work at least two jobs but still earn less than 133% of poverty ($31, 322 for a family of four). They are disqualified from basic Medicaid for being responsible and doing exactly what we expect them to do: work.
I realize that you have already been briefed on arguments in support of Medicaid expansion such as stimulating the life sciences sector of our economy, creating 30,000 jobs, holding down hospital costs by insuring an additional 450,000 Hoosiers, and capturing our portion of the federal funding from the Affordable Care Act. The purpose of my letter, however, is to discuss the moral and theological implications rather than the fiscal and political considerations.
I am interested in knowing how you reconcile the implementation of the Affordable Care Act with your theological beliefs. For me the incarnation is a reminder to us that God takes seriously our physical as well as our spiritual wellbeing. The Bible tells us that Jesus did not just restore peoples’ souls but also made them physically whole. In Matthew 25 31-46 Jesus tells us that it is the powerful not the hungry, the thirsty, or the sick that are being judged. In a complete turnabout, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords identifies himself three times with those who have the least. The Bible also says in Luke 12:48, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required, and from the one whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” In Matthew 25 Jesus does not outline a litmus test to determine who is truly needy except to say, “As you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Since Jesus does not set any conditions for determining need, it would seem that it is our obligation to care for people according to their need. Rather than lifting up the poor as the Gospel suggests, enormous time and energy has been spent to deny, demoralize and demonize them. We Christians would be well served to heed the warning found in Matthew 7:7, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged”. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
Having been duly elected, you have been appointed to be a good and faithful servant to ALL of the people of Indiana. God has put you in the position you are in not to do what is easy or politically expedient, but to think outside the box and consider what is just according to His will without regard to personal gain or political expediency. I urge you to shift your thinking regarding Medicaid expansion in a direction that not only sees, but honors the image of Christ in every low-income man, woman, and child. You mentioned in your reflection at the Indiana Leadership Prayer Breakfast that we need to be mindful “not to stand in the way of God’s attempt to answer someone’s prayer.” I wonder if God is speaking through petitions such as these not to stand in the way but to help the 450,000 working families in Indiana who would be helped by Medicaid expansion.
Thank you for your review of these concerns. Please include in your response the theological basis for your position. Thank you.
Program Director for Healthy Families and Sustainable Communities
Lafayette Urban Ministry
420 N. 4th Street
Lafayette, Indiana 47901-2213