Lawrence, KS—March 28 — Kansas Interfaith Action today called on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to sign HB 2044, the KanCare expansion bill passed by a large majority in the state Senate yesterday.
Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan, board chair of KIFA, said, “Access to healthcare is a human right. For too long KanCare expansion has been held hostage to politics. We call on the governor to do the right thing, the moral thing, and sign the bill, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of both houses of the state legislature and by the vast majority of Kansans as well.”
Faith groups from across the spectrum have supported Medicaid expansion since it was written into the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Rabbi Moti Rieber, executive director of KIFA, said, “Our commitment to universal access to affordable and quality health care is based on our commitment to Scriptural and moral values. In Genesis it says, “[everyone] is created in the image of God'; we take from this that access to health care should be universal. In Matthew it says, “what you did for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did for me,” from which we take that such care should not be limited based on ability to pay.”
It has been estimated that KanCare expansion would affect 150,000 Kansans who make too much for traditional Medicaid but not enough to be eligible for federal subsidies under the ACA. Medicaid is the only option for many of these low-income and working Kansans. Said Rev. Oglesby-Dunegan, “The governor’s welfare reform policies have focused on welfare-to-work requirements, compelling people to take jobs that take away their access to health care. This is clearly immoral, and we urge Gov. Brownback to repair this injustice.”
Kansas Interfaith Action is a statewide, multi-faith issue-advocacy organization that “puts faith into action” by educating, engaging and advocating on behalf of people of faith and the public regarding critical social, economic and climate justice issues. It represents over 2,500 Kansans and 150 clergy, primarily from the moderate to progressive side of the spectrum, and its policy positions are shaped by the values of the diverse faiths involved, in working for moral public policy in Kansas. KIFA is part of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, the umbrella group of organizations and hospitals supporting expansion of KanCare.
Rabbi Rieber said, “The faith community believes that expansion is the human and moral thing to do. It will include people who – for no other reason that they are people, created, like all of us, in the image of God - have the right to quality and affordable heath care. We urge Gov. Brownback to quit playing politics on this issue, and to sign the legislation without delay.”