Calls Refusal to Expand Medicaid "Moral Failure"
Lawrence, KS (May 6, 2019) — Kansas Interfaith Action expresses its grave disappointment that Medicaid Expansion was not taken up by the Senate and did not pass in the 2019 legislative session.
“Medicaid Expansion was our highest priority in the session, a clear moral imperative, and its failure to pass is not just a disappointment, it’s a injustice,” said Rabbi Moti Rieber, executive director of KIFA. “The failure to hold hearings, the refusal to allow a vote in the Senate, are nothing less than moral failures, and the blame for them rests solely at the feet of leadership in the House and Senate.”
The 2019 legislative session ended in the middle of the night on Saturday night with the collapse of an effort by Moderate Republicans and Democrats to refuse to pass a budget until Medicaid Expansion was taken up by the Senate. After the budget was finished another big tax cut bill passed, to replace the one previously vetoed by Gov. Kelly. These tax cut bills were opposed by KIFA throughout the session.
Rabbi Rieber said, “The fact that a big tax cut that will largely benefit multinational corporations and the wealthiest Kansans can pass, but a policy that will help working people, and is supported by 70% of Kansans, by a majority of the legislature and by the governor, cannot, shows how twisted the priorities of legislative leadership were this session.”
KIFA has been part of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas and other organizations and coalitions supporting expansion since KIFA’s establishment in 2016. As the “moral voice for public policy in Kansas,” KIFA’s role is to address the moral implications of public policy – in this case, that with Expansion, 150,000 Kansans would have access to health insurance who are now either receiving care in emergency rooms, or not at all.
According to a recent op-ed in the Kansas City Star, approximately 627 Kansans die each year in the absence of Expansion. That is why KIFA opposed efforts to delay the legislation until next year. “It is said, Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Rabbi Rieber. “In over 600 cases in Kansas, justice delayed is life denied.”
KIFA will continue its outreach and advocacy work on behalf of Expansion during the rest of the year, and promises to be back in the legislature stronger and more vocal on behalf of the less fortunate in 2020.