Kansas congressman under fire over poor 'don't want health care' comment

Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., has been criticized for comments he made about poor not wanting health care but said his remarks were misinterpreted, The Kansas City Star reported.

Marshall, an obstetrician, reportedly made the comments in a profile article published on a health care website called Stat.

“Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us,’” he told the website. “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

The website said it pressed Marshall on the comment, and he went on, “Just, like, homeless people. … I think just morally, spiritually, socially, [some people] just don’t want health care,” he said. “The Medicaid population, which is [on] a free credit card, as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising. And I’m not judging, I’m just saying socially that’s where they are. So there’s a group of people that even with unlimited access to health care are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought [into] the ER.”

Marshall said in a statement Wednesday that he regretted “trying to address several issues with a singular response.” He pointed to his 30-year-career where he said he helped patients “regardless of their ability to pay,” and  said he was attempting to illustrate that a health law could not be crafted around “any one segment of the population.”

“When I said ‘The poor will always be with us,’ it was actually in the context of supporting the obligation we have to always take care of people, but we cannot completely craft a larger, affordable healthcare policy around a comparatively small segment of the population who will get care no matter what,” he said in the statement, according to The Star.