FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2022
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Sojourners Applauds Schumer-Manchin Inflation Reduction Act but Calls on Senate to Close the Medicaid Gap so most Vulnerable Gain Access to Health Care
Statement from Sojourners President Adam Russell Taylor
Washington, DC - In response to the deal reached yesterday by Sen. Manchin and Sen. Schumer on the Inflation Reduction Act, Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, president of Sojourners, issued the following statement:
“Yesterday’s announcement that Senators Schumer and Manchin reached a deal on a reconciliation package (the Inflation Reduction Act) that includes $443 billion in new spending to combat climate change and increase renewable energy represents good news for the country and the planet. However, health care provisions in the Act fail the fundamental moral and biblical test of reaching and benefiting the most vulnerable and marginalized Americans, specifically the 2.2 million Americans who are currently excluded from Medicaid coverage in 12 states that have callously refused to expand coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Congress must close this gap and ensure this bill provides a lifeline of health care access to those who need it most. 60 percent of these people are Black and Brown people in the South, and all of them live below the federal poverty line. That means that while the extended ACA subsidies will help low-to-middle-income Americans stay insured, the poorest will end up being left out. If the Senate doesn’t close the gap, it is effectively saying these Americans must go without health care for the foreseeable future. This makes this a fundamental issue of racial and economic justice.
“The health inequities facing our nation are the result of decades of intentional underinvestment in families and communities in ways that perpetuate socioeconomic and racial disparities. While we applaud how the Inflation Reduction Act will enable Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and will lower health insurance costs for 13 million Americans by an average of $800 a year under the Affordable Care Act, we know that the Senate can and must do much more. For example, the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act would have made the largest investment in American history to save moms' lives, end racial and ethnic maternal health disparities, and advance birth equity across the United States. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any high-income country and the only rate that is rising. This crisis is particularly hard hitting for Black and Brown mothers. The pregnancy-related mortality rate for Black and Native Americans is two to four times higher than the rate for white Americans. Hispanic and AAPI people also experience elevated rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. The COVID-19 pandemic has put pregnant people at greater risk for adverse birth outcomes, which ultimately puts the newborn at risk for developmental challenges from birth through all subsequent stages of life.
“Now is the time for the Senate to close the Medicaid coverage gap and ensure the reconciliation bill is good news not just to low and middle-income Americans but also for those American families whose backs are up against the wall and have been most left out. Christians are called to affirm the imago dei, the image of God in all people, which means treating their needs as holy. Acting on this core belief, we must continue to call on Congress to expand access to quality and affordable health care until all have access and everyone’s health needs are treated as holy.”