When it comes to expanding Medicaid, Sen. Tommy Norment seems to be caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, his fiscally conservative principles warn him against expanding a social welfare program. On the other hand, as a Christian he sympathizes with the 400,000 citizens who stand to benefit from Medicaid expansion. Pres. George W. Bush faced a similar dilemma in 1998.
Michael Gerson, himself an evangelical, relates the story in the current issue of the Atlantic. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief called for a massive increase in U.S. support for vaccines to stem the global AIDS epidemic but faced opposition from Republican members of Congress. As Gerson notes, “In explaining and defending the program, Bush made constant reference to Luke 12:48: ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’” The program was renewed in 2008 and has been responsible for saving millions of lives.
With respect to Medicaid expansion, more than 1,000 religious leaders across the commonwealth support expansion of health care. We have the federal funds waiting to be drawn down to support the program. All we need is Sen. Norment’s commitment to break the budget stalemate with the House of Delegates. He should follow President Bush’s example by recognizing the truth of Luke 12:48.