Governor Kelly, Faith Leaders Urge Legislators to Expand Medicaid

Governor Laura Kelly today hosted a roundtable with faith leaders from the Kansas City metropolitan area as part of her statewide Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy tour. Pastors and nonprofit leaders discussed how Medicaid expansion would impact local congregants by cutting costs, supporting hospitals, and growing the economy.

“More and more Kansans of faith are joining our push to expand Medicaid and get working Kansans affordable health care,” Governor Laura 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, there are more than 15,700 Kansans in Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, and Wyandotte Counties who are currently uninsured and would qualify for coverage if the legislature would expand Medicaid. More than 5,200 new health care jobs would be created in those four counties, and nearly $135.3 million would be generated in new annual health care spending in the region.

“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.”

“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 Stuart Swetland, President of Donnelly College, 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.”

Participants included:

  • Pastor Kyle Reynolds, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
  • Reverend Dr. Bobby L. Love Sr., Second Baptist Church of Olathe
  • Reverend Dr. Roger Nishioka, Village Presbyterian Church
  • Monsignor Stuart Swetland, President of Donnelly College
  • Erica Andrade, President and CEO of El Centro
  • Sister Therese Bangert, Social Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
  • Scott Brewer, Great Plains United Methodist Conference

Photos from the roundtable for media use can be found below.