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Religious Leaders Protest Proposed Medicaid Cuts

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Several St. Louis religious leaders Tuesday spoke out against proposed changes in Missouri's Medicaid program.

Earlier this month, Missouri House Republicans voted to spend $66 million less on the program.

They say Medicaid is growing at a rate that cannot be sustained.

But Rabbi Steve Gutow with the Reconstructionist Minyan of St. Louis says cutting Medicaid means thousands of people will be without health insurance.

"Leviticus says we should love our neighbors as ourselves," Gutow said. "If we love our neighbors, how can we want health care for ourselves and deny it to our neighbors because they're poor. That makes no sense. That's not my understanding of love."

But Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Carl Bearden says lawmakers just want Medicaid to follow the usual appropriations process, especially when the budget is tight.

"It does not mean that it'll end Medicaid services for anyone," Bearden said. "In fact of the 20,000 and 39,000 people you hear about, House Bill 1566 may impact 2,400 people."

State senators now have the bill. They have proposed making fewer cuts.