New campaign in Kansas targets Medicaid expansion

Medicaid expansion proponents in Kansas are bolstering efforts to expand insurance coverage for low-income individuals.

The proponents, which include members of the business, faith and health communities, have launched an election-year campaign to build momentum for state approval of Medicaid expansion, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

The Rev. Robert Schremmer, a Catholic priest and vicar general of the Dodge City, Kan., diocese, urged politicians of faith to honor Biblical values of compassion by helping poor and sick people facing economic hardship, fear and delayed healthcare, according to the report.

"The issue is an important moral value within virtually all faith traditions," said Mr. Schremmer, according to the report. "We pray and we ask that our governor and state legislators would allow the compassion they feel and the mercy they show as people of faith to impel them to act in justice for the working poor in need of healthcare."

Political opponents have been hesitant in expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a law requiring the state legislature to grant him authority to proceed with Medicaid expansion, according to the report. Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick (R-Stilwell), however, removed representatives and altered leadership of committees to impede bills tied to expansion. Legislation that could be amended to allow Medicaid expansion was kept off the House and Senate floors.

"As the governor has said before, we will not support an expansion plan that does not have a work requirement, is not sustainable and which puts the needs of able-bodied adults above the disabled and our most vulnerable citizens," Eileen Hawley, the governor's spokeswoman, told The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Moving forward with the campaign, activists with Alliance for a Healthy Kansas intend to articulate for potential voters the health, economic and quality of life features of expansion.

An estimated 150,000 uninsured adults would gain coverage if Kansas expanded Medicaid.


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