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Medicaid expansion vital for Ohioans

Many Ohioans familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan know that it is told in the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Bible. Luke 10:25-37.

Even without the academic background, nearly all Ohioans know that the story of the “Good” Samaritan is that told by Jesus about a person of modest means who unexpectedly comes to the aid of a person who has been injured and is in need of medical assistance. The injured person has been ignored by repeated passersby who would have been considered more likely to help the injured man.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells those listening to his teaching that the Samaritan’s assistance is model behavior. Jesus says “Go and do likewise.” Ohioans are now presented with the opportunity to give medical assistance to more than 275,000 fellow citizens via the “expansion” of Medicaid eligibility guidelines to 138 percent of the poverty guidelines.

Ohio Governor Kasich wants to do so; the Ohio Right to Life organization has endorsed the expansion, and the Catholic Conference of Bishops has joined with all of Ohio’s Catholic hospitals to support the idea. Ohio legislators now must approve the expansion program.

There are, of course, billions of reasons (i.e. dollars) to support Medicaid “expansion.”

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Hospital Association, and the Ohio State Medical Association have joined the effort to bring federal “expansion” dollars to Ohio as a means of supporting job creation and of easing the burden on hospitals of uncompensated (mostly expensive emergency) care.

Indeed, the Ohio AFL-CIO, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and AFSCME Council 8 correctly view the Medicaid “expansion” as good for employees and good for employment.

Regardless of the obvious statewide economic benefit of Ohio Medicaid “expansion,” there remains a moral imperative. There are 275,000 Ohioans who are sick and/or in need of medical assistance. They cannot afford nor obtain primary health care, regular dental care, or mental health treatment.

Yet, all Ohioans have the means now to help their fellow citizens in medical need because the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for the first few years (with 90 percent funding by 2021).

The only thing necessary is for each Ohio legislator to be a “Good” Samaritan and immediately vote to provide Medicaid “expansion” benefits to 275,000 of their Ohio constituents.

Mark J. Cardosi

Portsmouth