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Eye On Boise

Faith leaders make case for health coverage

Rev. Dr. Andrew Kukla of First Presbyterian Church in Boise, in the Idaho Senate gallery after watching Monday morning's session (Betsy Z. Russell)
Rev. Dr. Andrew Kukla of First Presbyterian Church in Boise, in the Idaho Senate gallery after watching Monday morning's session (Betsy Z. Russell)

A group of clergy members from the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho, who watched the Senate session from the gallery today after meeting with legislative leaders to urge support for closing Idaho’s health care coverage gap, was taken aback by procedural maneuvering that prevented minority Democrats from making a pitch for pulling the “Healthy Idaho” plan out of committee. “Everyone in the room just wants someone else to take the political hit for making this happen,” said the Rev. Andrew Kukla of First Presbyterian Church. “It feels like a lot of wheel-spinning,” said the Rev. Sara LaWall of the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The Rev. Marc Schlegel of Hyde Park Mennonite Congregation said, “Nobody is stepping up to lead.”

The clergy members met this morning with House Speaker Scott Bedke and Tammy Perkins of Gov. Butch Otter’s office, in Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill’s conference room; Hill was scheduled to attend, but was held up by the Senate State Affairs hearing on gun legislation, which ran until the Senate went into session. They also presented a letter signed by 80 faith leaders from around the state.

LaWall said, “We tried to express as faith leaders the call of our faith communities to serve the marginalized and the poor – some of our congregants fall in that gap.” She added, “Health care is not charity – it’s a human right, and people are dying.” Schlegel said, “We can’t provide health care to 78,000 people the way the government can.”



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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