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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Churches could help ease Medicaid crisis

Thursday, June 23, 2005

OK, so let's talk more about Medicaid. We already know that the taxpayer-

funded health program for the low-income takes nearly one-third of the state budget and that figure is growing annually. We also know that the program is essential for the medical needs of the most vulnerable in society. And finally, we know the program has its share of fraud and abuse.

But here's something I didn't know, though I probably should have. By one estimate, the state of Missouri will spend $40 million this year alone on transportation for Medicaid recipients to be shuttled to doctor visits. Transportation is an important ingredient for the elderly and low-income. I once served on a state committee on education where we learned that the lack of transportation was a major obstacle to education. So it's understandable that low-income Medicaid recipients lack adequate transportation to visit the doctor. But $40 million!

Here's my suggestion then. It won't be welcomed in all quarters.

If you'll notice, many churches in Sikeston have completed or are working on building programs. Many of our churches in recent years have constructed expensive and massive centers for recreation or large gatherings. That building explosion for churches is not limited to Sikeston. Statewide, churches are spending massive amounts of money to expand their buildings in the hopes of reaching more people or better serving their congregations.

Instead of building brick and mortar facilities, why don't churches offer free transportation services to the elderly and low-income to visit doctors? I assume one of the missions of the church is to assist those less fortunate. Churches offer transportation for their congregation to attend services. Why not use those vehicles on a daily basis to shuttle the low-income to the doctor?

Granted, it would be a cost for the churches. But is it more appropriate to build a new basketball court indoors or to help those less fortunate? Interesting question.

The state of Missouri is currently in a contract dispute with the provider of transportation for Medicaid recipients. The dispute centers on money.

Since we're all sick of more taxes and since Medicaid is about to break the state budget, why not look at the private sector for some help? Churches - who are tax-exempt, by the way - could provide a solution in this one area.

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