January 10, 2022

Medicaid expansion would help all Kansans

The following is an opinion piece by Health Fund President David Jordan.

Eight years of inaction by policymakers have resulted in Kansans paying more for health care, our communities’ ability to deliver health care being pushed to the brink, and billions of dollars in lost economic opportunity.

Today, the Kansas legislature begins its annual legislative session, providing yet another opportunity to expand KanCare, Kansas’ Medicaid program. Kansas is one of only 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid, to the detriment of the 165,000 hardworking Kansans who fall in the coverage gap.

Who’s in the coverage gap?

A Kansas family of three with an annual income of $8,345 makes too much to be covered by KanCare, and too little to receive Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace subsidies. In this case, a single mother with two kids who works a minimum wage job 23 hours per week falls into the coverage gap – earning too much to qualify for KanCare and too little to qualify for health coverage through the ACA. 

According to the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, more than two-thirds of adults eligible for insurance through Medicaid expansion work or are in working families, and most are employed in industries less likely to offer affordable health insurance, such as service, construction, and retail.

At a time when all Kansans are experiencing the pinch of increased costs to provide for our families, health care is no exception. Expanding KanCare would not just benefit those in the coverage gap, it would also help bring down the costs of health care for Kansans and reduce costs for businesses.

As policymakers return to Topeka, it is important to remind them that expanding KanCare is a budget-neutral Kansas-specific policy that would help 165,000 hardworking Kansans who fall in the coverage gap access health care and reduce their risk of medical debt and bankruptcy.

Beyond improving health and economic security, expanding KanCare would add nearly 23,000 good-paying jobs to our state, increasing our economic output over the next three years by $17 billion and the personal income of Kansans by $6.3 billion. Expansion would also help protect access to care for our rural neighbors; 76 hospitals in Kansas are currently at risk of closing. Expanding KanCare would help rural Kansans access the care they need while boosting their local economies.

Join the conversation

To learn more about the state of KanCare and its potential expansion, you can attend a virtual lunch on January 13 with key leaders within the health sector to discuss the path forward for Medicaid expansion in Kansas.

Kansas Lt. Gov. David Toland, who also serves as the Kansas State Secretary of Commerce, will provide an update on the Governor’s plans around KanCare expansion and will share current data on the economic impact expansion will have in Kansas.

Sen. Doll, a Republican legislator from Garden City and longtime advocate of KanCare expansion, will discuss the path forward for expansion through the legislative process and how health leaders can help leverage their voices and positions to support this work.

Expanding KanCare is critically important to improving health, reducing costs for Kansas families, and creating jobs. To achieve this goal, we all need to engage in the discussion and let our policymakers know that we can’t afford to wait another year to expand KanCare.

Register for the lunch here.

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