Medicaid expansion is imperfect cure to health care challenge

Chuck Weber is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.

by Chuck Weber

The Gospels relate striking stories of Jesus as the great physician.

He longs to take people from where they are and bring them to where they need to be. He encounters afflictions of body, mind or spirit. Moved with compassion, he heals the whole person.

The divine example of Christ inspires the Catholic desire of authentic and affordable health care for all people, regardless of socioeconomic status.

One solution to this challenge now under legislative consideration in Kansas — taxpayer-funded Medicaid expansion — is itself complex and in need of healing.

The unemployed and working poor all-too-often must turn to hospital emergency rooms for primary health care.

Even for those with health insurance — including tax-subsidized plans — skyrocketing deductibles can lead to crushing debt, collection agencies, garnished wages and more. 

Urban and rural hospitals legally obligated to serve all who enter their doors provide uncompensated care totaling millions of dollars annually. Someone pays. Cost shifting contributes to a frequently inefficient care delivery system.

Further complicating health care solution options in Kansas is the horrific Kansas Supreme Court decision in the live dismemberment abortion case known as Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt.

The court established a fundamental right to abortion in Kansas, virtually unlimited and unregulated. Few realize that the justices attempted to validate their finding by citing public or Medicaid-funded abortions cases from other states.

The broad, radical language of Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt emphasizes “bodily autonomy.” This ill-defined language may open the door to legalized physician-assisted suicide and irreversible “gender affirming” amputations and/or experimental hormone “therapies.”

Will Kansas Catholics and other citizens seeking to help the poor become unwilling participants in unethical and even harmful procedures under Medicaid expansion? 

The Catholic heart of compassion seeks genuine health care access with a preferential treatment for the poor. Medicaid-funded abortion and other certain treatments are not health care.

I urge you to engage in the process and contact your state legislator. Medicaid expansion in Kansas must explicitly exclude abortion and experimental or harmful medical procedures and treatments. Religious and professional conscience protections for health care institutions and individuals must be included.

Implore lawmakers to support the chance for you to vote on a constitutional amendment that reverses the Hodes ruling and allows life-saving restrictions on abortion. 

Most importantly, pray earnestly in the name of Jesus, the great physician, for an increase in legislative wisdom balancing compassion and justice. Pray for those in need, that they find care and healing of the whole person with the dignity due to each of God’s children.

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