Faith leaders join Governor in quest to expand Medicaid in Kansas

Governor Laura Kelly visits with faith leaders in the Kansas City area to discuss Medicaid...
Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 8:49 AM CST
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LENEXA, Kan. (WIBW) - Faith leaders in the Kansas City area joined Governor Laura Kelly on her quest to expand Medicaid in the Sunflower State.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says that on Monday, Nov. 20, she hosted a roundtable with faith leaders from the Kansas City area as part of her Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy tour. Pastors and nonprofit leaders discussed how Medicaid expansion would impact local congregations as costs are cut, hospitals are supported and the economy is grown.

“More and more Kansans of faith are joining our push to expand Medicaid and get working Kansans affordable health care,” Gov. Kelly said. “I was so glad to have this conversation with pastors across the KC Metro who understand the financial burden families without health insurance are facing. It’s time for the Kansas legislature to step up and expand Medicaid.”

According to the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, more than 15,700 Kansans live in Johnson, Wyandotte, Miami and Leavenworth counties who are currently uninsured and would qualify for coverage with Medicaid expansion. More than 5,200 new healthcare jobs would be created and nearly $135.5 million would be generated in new annual healthcare spending.

“As a pastor, I cannot sit by quietly while people in my church, my neighborhood, and my state go without the health care they need,” Pastor Kyle Reynolds, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Lenexa, said. “The scriptures repeatedly call us to care for the most vulnerable in our midst, but Kansas is currently falling short of that benchmark. We are also called to be good stewards of our resources, and thus far too many billions of Kansas taxpayer dollars have been left in Washington while people in Kansas languish because of our state’s inability to provide adequate access to Medicaid. Expanding access to Medicaid is a tangible way to ‘love our neighbors,’ to care for the most vulnerable among us, and to be good stewards of the resources that we have – all of which are scriptural imperatives.”

Kelly noted that participants included: Pastor Kyle Reynolds of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Reverand Dr. Bobby L. Love Sr. of Second Baptist Church of Olathe, Reverend Dr. Roger Nishioka of Village Presbyterian Church, Monsignor Stuart Swetland in his capacity as President of Donnelly College, Erica Andrade in her capacity as President and CEO of El Centro, Sister Therese Bangert in her capacity as Social Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth and Scott Brewer as he represented the Great Plains United Methodist Conference.

“Catholics believe that adequate health care is a right for everyone, not a privilege for the affluent. As a Catholic theologian and priest, I support the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas to help thousands of my fellow citizens afford access to our health care system and to support our health care facilities in less affluent areas of our state,” Monsignor Swetland said. “While Medicaid is not without its own difficulties, I agree with the Catholic Bishops of Kansas who wrote, ‘We do not believe that a nation that has been blessed with such abundance should leave so many of its poor without health insurance.’ Many of the students and families associated with Donnelly College would benefit greatly from Medicaid expansion.”