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December 16, 2021

Organizations Urge Kansas Senate Delegation to Support Health Provisions in Build Back Better Act

As many Kansans struggle with the high costs of everyday bills like health care, child care and food, the United States Senate is debating the Build Back Better Act, which could help make health care and child care more affordable for Kansas families.

In Kansas, nearly 1 in 10 adults (9.1%) is uninsured and more than 1 in 20 (5.8%) children lacks health coverage. As a result of a high uninsured rate, too many Kansas women and children are not getting the healthiest start to life, Kansans are not accessing health care needed to support their return to the workforce, and the cost of health care is too high for too many Kansans.
 
The Build Back Better Act makes critical investments in making health care more affordable for all Kansans, which will support the health of all Kansans, especially mothers and children.

The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and its partners have sent a letter urging the Kansas delegation in the U.S. Senate to support key provisions in the Build Back Better Act that will address health inequities in our state. A PDF of the letter is available and the full text is below.

To learn how the Build Back Better Act benefits Kansans, check out the podcast episode from the Kansas Reflector that focused on how the transformative policy proposal would impact health, child care, persistent poverty and address longstanding racial and gender inequities.


December 16, 2021

Dear Senators Moran and Marshall,

As organizations that represent thousands of Kansans, we are writing to you to urge you to support the Build Back Better Act. Our organizations are dedicated to improving the health of Kansans and working to ensure mothers and children have the best start in life.

In Kansas, nearly 1 in 10 adults (9.1%) is uninsured and more than 1 in 20 (5.8%) children lacks health coverage.[1] As a result of a high uninsured rate, too many Kansas women and children are not getting the healthiest start to life, Kansans are not accessing health care needed to support their return to the workforce, and the cost of health care is too high for too many Kansans.

The Build Back Better Act makes critical investments in making health care more affordable for all Kansans, which will support the health of all Kansans, especially mothers and children. Additionally, these provisions will address longstanding health inequities within the state. We ask that you support the plan because it:

  • Closes the coverage gap. The provision to permanently close the coverage gap in the states that have not expanded Medicaid will benefit more than 100,000 Kansans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to qualify for subsidies for coverage through the marketplace. Kansas is one of only 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid. A Kansas family of three with an annual income of $8,345 makes too much to be covered by Medicaid, and too little to receive marketplace subsidies.[2] 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.[3]
  • Extends postpartum coverage. The provision to permanently extend postpartum coverage to 12 months will ensure mothers maintain health coverage at a crucial time. Without the extension, each year approximately 9,000 Kansas mothers will lose coverage a mere 60 days postpartum once the public health emergency expires. Nearly 40% of Kansas births are covered by Medicaid.[4] Nearly one-quarter of Kansas pregnancy-related deaths occur between 43 days and one year after pregnancy.[5] Children will benefit as well—parental enrollment in Medicaid is associated with a 29% higher probability that a child will receive an annual well-child visit.[6] Extending postpartum coverage will save lives and lead to healthier starts for mothers and children.
  • Advances birth equity. The Build Back Better Act contains all 12 bills originally included in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act. The Momnibus addresses maternal health equity through growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, by investing in organizations focused on promoting maternal health equity, and by addressing social determinants of maternal health, among others.[7] The maternal health crisis highlights longstanding racial disparities. In Kansas, non-white minority women are nearly twice as likely to die within a year of pregnancy as non-Hispanic white women.[8]
  • Makes the Children’s Health Improvement Program (CHIP) permanent. The provision to make federal CHIP funding permanent would increase stability in children’s health coverage by ensuring that states have the federal funding needed to maintain and expand their programs. Currently, the program is funded through September 30, 2027. The bill would also permanently extend the Medicaid and CHIP stability provision for children, meaning that states cannot make it more difficult for eligible children to enroll.[9]
  • Makes health coverage more affordable. The provision to extend Marketplace subsidies through the end of 2025 will help the nearly 90,000 Kansans who received additional federal dollars this year to reduce their health insurance premiums and deductibles. This will leave more of their monthly budget to spend on housing, food, and other necessities.[10]
  • Streamlines access to Medicaid and CHIP through 12 months continuous coverage and use of express lane eligibility. The plan reduces burdens on families by using available information from other benefit programs to establish eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP. The plan also ensures all children and youth enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP can stay enrolled for 12 continuous months,which will reduce the risk that children experience gaps in coverage or lose it altogether. Nationally, 1 in 10 kids experiences a period without coverage during the year, and that number rises to more than 1 in 8 kids in families below 250% of the federal poverty level.[11]

These provisions in the Build Back Better Act will create more affordable coverage for Kansans. When all Kansans can afford health coverage, we all benefit. Hospitals will be on stronger financial ground—especially those in rural areas where proximity to care can save lives. More insured Kansans will lead to less uncompensated care and reduced Medicaid costs for our state. Kansans will be healthier and able to return to work. Most importantly, mothers and children will have the health care needed to have the strongest start to life, which in the long run will improve health and reduce costs.

We urge you to support these provisions in the Build Back Better Act that will lead to healthier kids, healthier mothers, and healthier Kansans. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Child Advocacy and Parenting Services

CKF Addiction Treatment

Community Care Network of Kansas

Community Health Council of Wyandotte County

Cradle Kansas City

D&R Tender Loving Care Home Health Services

Ellsworth County Medical Center

Faith Voices for Medicaid Expansion

Flint Hills Wellness Coalition

International Pain Foundation

KanCare Advocates Network

Kansas Academy of Family Physicians

Kansas Action for Children

Kansas Appleseed

Kansas Birth Equity Network

Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition

Kansas Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

Kansas Head Start Association

Kansas Health Foundation

Kansas Interfaith Action

Kansas Public Health Association

KL Connections

League of Women Voters of Kansas

Mainstream Coalition

Martin Luther King, Jr. Child Development Center

MORE2

NEK-CAP, Inc

New Hope and Love Community Church

Nurture KC

Oral Health Kansas, Inc.

Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation

The Neighboring Movement

Therapy Services LLC

United Methodist Health Ministry Fund

Wichita Medical Research and Education Foundation

Women for Kansas


[1] Kansas Health Institute, Health Insurance in Kansas: Annual Insurance Update 2021, accessed December 3, 2021, https://www.khi.org/assets/uploads/news/15012/annual_insurance_update_2021_(december_2021)_2.pdf.

[2] “Medicaid Income Eligibility Limits for Adults as a Percent of the Federal Poverty Level,” Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed December 3, 2021, https://www.kff.org/health-reform/state-indicator/medicaid-income-eligibility-limits-for-adults-as-a-percent-of-the-federal-poverty-level.

[3] Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, KanCare Expansion: Just the Facts (February 2020), accessed December 3, 2021,https://expandkancare.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Working-Families-Feb-2020.pdf.

[4] “Births Financed by Medicaid,” Kaiser Family Foundation, October 2019, accessed December 3, 2021, https://www.kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/births-financed-by-medicaid/.

[5] Kansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee, Kansas Maternal Mortality Report 2016-2018: Including Severe Maternal Morbidity, 2016-2019 Topeka, 2020).

[6] Maya Venkataramani, Craig Evan Pollack, and Eric T. Roberts, “Spillover Effects of Adult Medicaid Expansions on Children’s Use of Preventive Services,” Abstract, PubMed.gov. November 13, 2017, doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-0953.

[7] Office of Representative Lauren Underwood, “Underwood’s ‘Momnibus’ Passes House in Build Back Better Act; Makes Largest Investment to Advance Birth Equity in American History,” news release, November 19, 2021, https://underwood.house.gov/media/press-releases/underwood-s-momnibus-passes-house-build-back-better-act-makes-largest.

[8] Kansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee, Kansas Maternal Mortality Report 2016-2018: Including Severe Maternal Morbidity, 2016-2019 Topeka, 2020).

[9] Edwin Park, “Build Back Better Reconciliation Bill Would Take Big Strides in Expanding Health Coverage and Access for Children and Families,” Say Ahhh! (blog), Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, October 29, 2021, https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2021/10/29/build-back-better-reconciliation-bill-would-make-big-strides-in-expanding-coverage-and-access-for-children-and-families.

[10] Suzanne Wikle, “Kansans Will Benefit from Health Provisions In Build Back Better Legislation,” Opinion, Kansas Reflector, November 30, 2021, https://kansasreflector.com/2021/11/30/kansans-will-benefit-from-health-provisions-in-build-back-better-legislation.

[11] Joan Alker and Aubrianna Osorio, “Why is Medicaid/CHIP Continuous Eligibility So Important for Kids?” Say Ahhh! (blog), Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, October 8, 2021,https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2021/10/08/why-is-medicaid-chip-continuous-eligibility-so-important-for-kids.

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