The Look in Brief

Southern Christian Coalition calls on Lee to expand Medicaid

By: - May 14, 2020 5:52 pm

Gov. Bill Lee is putting vulnerable Tennesseans at risk by reopening the economy too soon and failing to accept federal funds for Medicaid expansion, members of the Southern Christian Coalition said Thursday.

During a Thursday press conference, three pastors from across Tennessee called on Gov. Lee to expand Medicaid in Tennessee and to address the vulnerabilities caused by recent tornadoes and the COVID-19 epidemic. 

There are approximately 300,000 uninsured Tennesseans in need of health insurance, said the Rev. Matt Steinhauer, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Lebanon.  Steinhauer said the problem is exacerbated due to Tennessee’s involvement in the lawsuit against the ACC and refusal to accept Medicaid expansion money seeking a $7.9 billion Tenncare Medicaid block grant.

An estimated 4,000 additional Tennesseans are now in the medicaid coverage gap after losing employment between March 1 and May 2, with an further 86,000 expected by January of next year.

The issue is more pronounced, says Steinhauer, due to COVID-19 and the possibility of insurance companies using the virus as a pre-existing condition, leaving vulnerable Tennesseans with no

Rev. Matt Steinhauer (Photo: Southern Christian Coalition)
Rev. Matt Steinhauer (Photo: Southern Christian Coalition)

healthcare. 

“Pray for the people of Tennessee, don’t prey on the people of Tennessee, said the Rev. Dr. Herbert Lester, pastor of Clark Memorial United Methodist Church in Nashville. 

Rev. Earle Fisher, pastor of Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis,  said the black community has largely been excluded from COVD-19 relief policies, leaving the community vulnerable to infection. Fisher said reopening the economy before addressing these issues will shift economic burden to poor people. 

“We seem to be more concerned about for-profit margins than people living on the margin,” said the Rev. Fisher, adding that trickle-down economics, “kowtowing to corporate oligarchs” and pandering to political elites is what contaminated our cities, our counties and our entire state. 

The organization urges Gov. Lee to use his emergency powers in order to expand Medicaid to help Tennesseans during this pandemic and for the future.  

SCC is a non partisan grassroots organization that was founded in 2017. The group’s website says they oppose“ideology in the guise of Christian theology to push policies that harm our communities and isolate us from our neighbors as society weighs important decisions.”

 

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