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Great Bend community forum Monday to discuss expanding KanCare
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 On Monday, the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas will hold a community forum to discuss how expanding KanCare will impact Great Bend and its residents. It will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Prince of Peace Parish Center, 4200 Broadway, Great Bend.

Attending will be members and supporters of the alliance, including: James Blackwell, president and CEO, Clara Barton Hospital; Julie Kramp, CEO, Center for Counseling and Consultation; Sheldon Weisgrau, director, Health Reform Resource Project; and David Jordan, executive director, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas

A statement from the alliance said the Great Bend forum will discuss how the rejection of KanCare expansion is costing our state jobs, economic stimulus, and access to affordable health coverage. The forum is an opportunity for local business owners, faith leaders, doctors, uninsured workers and other concerned community members to discuss and learn more about the importance of expanding KanCare, and just how much our state stands to lose without it. 

So far, according to the alliance, inaction in Topeka has cost our state $1.8 billion and thousands of jobs at a time when our state needs it most. 

In Barton County, it could insure 1,204 uninsured residents, create 32 new jobs and bring in $5,091,716 in new annual health care spending.

“Expanding KanCare is crucial to our state’s economic future, and it would help more than 150,000 Kansans gain affordable health coverage,” said Jordan, adding the alliance is helping organize community forums around the state. “That’s why we’re building this effort, to unite our voices and urge elected officials to act now.”

The alliance reports that polls show that 82 percent of Kansans support a budget-neutral KanCare expansion plan. 

Since the landmark Supreme Court ruling in June 2012, states have had the option of expanding their federally funded Medicaid programs (called KanCare in Kansas) to cover to more low-income families. So far, 31 states have done so. By law, expansion is funded by the federal government at no less than 90 percent. Kansas does not save money by refusing expansion. It simply gives up the opportunity to bring tax dollars back to our state.