Weekly Update from the Missouri Catholic Conference                                       August 13, 2021  
Inside this issue
  Senate Votes to Preserve the Hyde Amendment  

This week, the U.S. Senate voted to preserve the pro-life Hyde and Weldon Amendments during discussion of a $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" bill that lays out a blueprint for spending that some Democrats in Congress have been advocating for as a legislative priority.  In a 50-49 vote, Democrat Joe Manchin joined all Senate Republicans to add an amendment to preserve the the pro-life Hyde and Weldon amendments in the spending bill. 

The amendment, introduced by Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford, was added as part of what is known as a "vote-a-rama" -- a marathon of votes on amendments to the bill.  While the vote is significant -- as it shows the Senate's commitment to preserve Hyde and Weldon -- it's important to note that the amendment was non-binding.  It is hoped, however, that the vote indicates where Senators stand on this issue going forward, as more votes on this measure are expected.   Sen. Manchin has recently stated publicly that he will vote to preserve Hyde. 

In a statement to Crux, Bishop James Johnston said that while the vote was a victory, the effort to protect innocent lives is not over. "I will continue as a member of the U.S. Bishop's Pro-Life Activities Committee to join clergy and laypeople from across the country in sending a strong message that billions of taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay for abortion." 

The MCC has been calling for our MOCAN members to join others across the U.S. in calling upon Congress to preserve the Hyde and Weldon Amendments.  Those who haven't already done so can sign a petition to that effect here.



  Judge Orders State to Allow Medicaid Sign Ups  

In a brief two-page order, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beteem ordered the state of Missouri to allow those eligible for Medicaid expansion to sign up for coverage under the state-run program. Judge Beteem's ruling comes after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled earlier that a Constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2020 to expand Medicaid was constitutional, despite not including a tax or other mechanism for funding newly eligible enrollees. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the legislature appropriates funds for Medicaid each year and doesn't know at the time of the appropriation how much funding will be needed or how many people will sign up.  The citizen-approved measure states that the eligibility criteria should be expanded, the court explained. It doesn't override the legislature's spending authority and is thus lawful under the Missouri Constitution. 

Governor Parson responded to this week's order stating he would follow the law and the court's order and has instructed the Department of Health to begin accepting applications. He warned, however, that there will likely be delays in implementing the expanded program, as the state's current administrative resources only anticipated servicing current Medicaid enrollees. It is expected that as many as 250,000 more Missouri citizens will now qualify for the program.  While legislative leaders have stated they do not need a special session to allocate resources to pay for new enrollees, they will likely have to pass additional funding measures when they return in January to fund the program for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2022. The Affordable Care Act provides that the federal government will cover 90% of the expenses of new enrollees. The state's 10% portion for new enrollees is estimated at around $130 million for the first year.



  Brothers Drinkwitz Encourage COVID-19 Vaccination  

Though familial competition runs deep with this duo, brothers Eliah Drinkwitz, head coach of the University of Missouri's football team, and Jeremy Drinkwitz, president of Mercy Hospital in Joplin, are forgoing their competitive spirit to encourage Missourians to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

As he sees Joplin's Mercy hospital once again become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, Jeremy says he's beyond proud to see his brother use his platform to speak up on this important issue. "I'm incredibly grateful that he is using his voice to (provide) ... a different sound than what people have heard," said Jeremy Drinkwitz, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. "This thing is highly political, and unfortunately, both sides, wherever you fall in that, ignore the other. And the sources of truth are hard to recognize for some people. So for him to use his voice to advocate for the truth may give people an opportunity to step back and think about it differently. And so I think that's incredibly valuable," he says in this Kansas City Star article.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we and the bishops of Missouri continue to echo the call for people to seriously consider vaccination to protect ourselves and our communities. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, and about the MO VIP program, click here.



  A Look at 200+ Years of Catholic History in Missouri  

Missouri celebrated its bicentennial this week with events all around the state, from dollar ice cream cone gatherings, to commemorative dedications, and more. As we look back on 200 years of Missouri history, we invite you to revisit Missouri's Catholic history as well in this archived edition of MCC Messenger.

Did the mention of dollar ice cream pique your appetite? Check out this new podcast, Hungry For MO, that's focused on Missouri's iconic dishes and their origins.



  Arches National Park  

North of Moab, Utah, Arches National Park beckons visitors to explore its natural other-worldy beauty. According to its National Parks site page, visitors to Arches will "discover a landscape of contrasting colors, land forms, and textures unlike any other in the world." Featuring  over 2,000 natural stone arches and hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive rock fins, and giant balanced rocks, this red-rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets. Read More about Arches National Park here.