Catholic bishops in Kansas are calling on lawmakers to expand Medicaid.
A statement from the bishops says that expanding the program would provide health coverage for 130,000 low-income Kansans who are currently uninsured.
“Many of our brothers and sisters who cannot currently afford health insurance would gain access to it, bringing an end to the uncertainty and fear that the uninsured of our society must live with daily,” the state’s bishops said in a statement.
Moderate Republicans and Democrats have repeatedly pushed for the state to expand the program, which provides health coverage to the poor and disabled, as is possible under the Affordable Care Act.
Kansas lawmakers have the option of raising eligibility for the program to 138 percent of the poverty line, meaning an annual income of $32,500 for a family of four. The state’s current eligibility limit is 38 percent of the poverty line.
The federal government would pay 100 percent of the costs next year and then gradually phase down to 90 percent after that, with the state providing the remainder. The Brownback administration and some lawmakers have raised concerns about the cost of expansion.
The bishops, who were previously neutral on the issue, endorsed expansion but also listed several reservations — including the fact that expansion would include money for contraception and their belief that the program needs fiscal reforms.
Despite those concerns, the bishops said expansion would bring important aid to the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
“We call to mind Luke’s parable of the Good Samaritan,” the statement from the bishops continues. “The Samaritan finds a man ‘half dead,’ is ‘moved with compassion’ and ‘treats him with mercy’ by caring for him. The parable reminds us that the measure of a culture is the manner in which it provides for its weakest and most vulnerable.”