The Talmud teaches us: “At a time when the community is suffering, no one should say, “I will go home, eat, drink and be at peace with myself.” –Talmud Bavli Taanit 11A.
We are all keenly aware that this is a time of suffering. In these difficult COVID times, it is easy to succumb to a feeling of helplessness. I find myself going down various rabbit holes: I am not a scientist, I cannot create a vaccine. I am not a public health expert, I cannot make meaningful predictions. Wouldn’t it just be easier to ‘go home, eat, drink, and be at peace’ – aka hop into bed and watch Netflix all day? Our Jewish predecessors understood the inclination to lean into comfort in difficult times. Instead, they offer Jewish values to empower us to lean into community needs.
In many ways, COVID has served as a clarifying experience. Never before have I understood so clearly that, not only is our humanity inherently connected, but so too is our health. While many of us enjoy the privilege of having health insurance, there are far too many who cannot avail themselves of this critical resource. Impoverishing policies prevent many across the Kansas City region from accessing health insurance to protect their family in times of health and times of illness. A Kaiser Family Foundation report analyzing 324 studies on Medicaid expansion found expansion to be beneficial to all systems involved: from individuals who have access to preventative care to hospital systems that see huge reductions in uncompensated care. Medicaid expansion provides an opportunity to extend healthcare coverage to 230,000 Missourians who are in the coverage gap. These Missourians are uninsured veterans, older adults, and parents with children with incomes below $18,000/year. These Missourians are our neighbors, our family members, our fellow humans.
In this time of potential hopelessness, our sages implore us to keep our eye on those in need. On August 4th, Missouri voters will have the opportunity to do something meaningful.
“To ensure that 230,000 Missourians gain access to healthcare, VOTE YES on AMENDMENT 2 – a healthcare system that is more equitable for more of us in a time when healthcare is more essential than ever.”
To learn more about Amendment 2 and what it means for healthcare in Missouri, visit www.yeson2.org.
Laura Gilman is the Director of Older Adult Services at JFS of Greater Kansas City. She holds two Master’s degrees – one in Clinical Social Work, one in Jewish Communal Service.