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Kansas bishops defend support for placing conditions on Medicaid expansion

Kansas bishops defend support for placing conditions on Medicaid expansion
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Kansas Catholic bishops are standing by their request to place conditions on Medicaid expansion in the state.

The bishops have taken a stance to withhold their support of Medicaid expansion until the state meets some conditions, including passing a bill to allow citizens to vote on a constitutional amendment to remove abortion as a “natural right.” 

The bishops are also calling for Medicaid not to fund abortion and conscience protections for health care providers who do not want to give abortions. 

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Chuck Weber, the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, defended the bishops in a Kansas City Star op-ed Sunday, in response to last week’s editorial from the newspaper. The editorial called the bishops “not so much ‘pro-life’ as ‘pro-birth,’” by pushing back on the extension of health care to 150,000 additional low-income state residents.

Weber described the editorial’s depiction as “disingenuous.”

“The bishops didn’t create this roadblock; they’re making every effort to remove it,” he wrote. “It is abortion advocates, through legislative efforts and the courts, who insist on inserting abortion into health care policy. The abortion of preborn children is not health care.”

Weber calls Medicaid an “imperfect solution” to providing health care to all people but says the church supports the expansion if the conditions are met.

The Christian social justice group Faithful America has put out a petition condemning the bishops and saying it is “not Christian to hold access to affordable health care hostage as a political bargaining chip.” The petition so far has more than 1,100 signatures, with a goal of 5,000.

The state senate was one vote short of putting the Medicaid expansion bill in question on its calendar in May, the Kansas City Star reported.