A Christians-only health care ministry that was forced out of Kentucky last year could be invited back under legislation that cleared its first legislative hurdle this week.
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted 11-0 to pass a bill that would exempt Medi-Share, a Florida-based cost-sharing ministry, from state insurance regulations.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ordered Medi-Share to stop operating in Kentucky last year at the request of the Department of Insurance because it didn’t comply with insurance regulations.
Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, said the legislation that now goes to the full Senate for consideration would allow about 800 Kentuckians to rejoin Medi-Share. The plan resembles secular insurance in some ways but only allows participation by people who pledge to live Christian lives with no smoking, drinking, using drugs or engaging in sex outside of marriage.
Medi-Share contends that its participants aren’t buying insurance but are involved in a charitable endeavor to help cover medical bills of fellow Christians and potentially have their own expenses covered should the need arise.
Some of the former participants — including the Rev. Dewayne Walker, pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Lexington — told lawmakers they want to be a part of Medi-Share. Walker said Medi-Share paid about $250,000 in medical bills for his wife, who had cancer.