Guest Commentary

The debate over expanding KanCare is about people, not politics

Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, Kan.

With others in the Diocese of Dodge City, Kan., I have watched with great disappointment as our elected leaders in Topeka year after year give in to politics and deny thousands of Kansans access to health care that will save their lives, in many cases.

For the past three years, our state has had the chance to expand KanCare to reach 150,000 more Kansans who fall into what is called the “coverage gap.” These are hardworking people who are doing everything they can to make ends meet, but simply cannot afford health insurance for themselves or their families.

Our diocese serves 28 counties in southwest Kansas and covers 23,000 square miles. We know these people. They pray with us in church, they serve us at restaurants, they take care of our children, they provide care for our elderly. They do many of the invisible jobs that don’t pay well but keep our communities bound together. They are our neighbors.

Expansion of KanCare, the Medicaid program that provides health insurance to low-income individuals, is about people and not politics. It is about making sure we do whatever we can to keep our families, friends and neighbors healthy in mind, body and spirit.

In all faiths we find stories that show the importance of being our brother’s — and sister’s — keeper. In the Christian faith, we know that when we feed the hungry and care for the ill, we do so after the example of Christ and at his command.

Not being able to afford health insurance is not a sin. But looking the other way when we know we could help people in need is not what is expected of us who strive to live a faith-based life.

We know our state leaders are good people. We have faith they will do the right thing this year and recognize the dignity of all Kansans by voting to expand KanCare. I encourage you to let them know that you support their votes, because ultimately the lives of those near and dear to us are depending on it.

Rev. Robert A. Schremmer is vicar general and moderator of curia for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, Kan.