To the editor:
On Aug. 1, 2023, I attended a Great Bend Community Meeting at the First United Methodist Church to learn more about our state’s Medicaid program called KanCare. April Holman, executive director of Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, reminded the audience of why expanding KanCare is good for Kansas as well as Barton County. The Alliance is a coalition of more than 125 organizations and leaders across the state that support KanCare. (See https://expandkancare.com.)
Reasons for expanding KanCare in Kansas include reducing health-care costs for everyone, protecting Kansans from medical debt, and fixing the eligibility limits, which are too low. The maximum income limit in 2023 to qualify for KanCare is about $9,500 per year for a family of three – that’s less than $800 a month!
KanCare expansion would give 150,000 Kansans access to affordable health care as well as unlocking an estimated one billion dollars in annual federal aid. Kansas has lost this federal aid since 2014 when Medicaid expansion became effective. Kansas does not save money by refusing expansion; it simply gives up the opportunity to bring tax dollars back to our state. By law, 90% of the costs of expanding KanCare will be funded by the federal government.
Kansas is 1 out of 11 states that have not passed expansion. Polls show that up to 80% of Kansans want this expansion. However, our legislative leaders have prevented progress on expansion for years. The last time a House committee allowed a hearing on expansion was in 2017.
The expansion would preserve and strengthen rural health care, help to address the general workforce shortage, and would make Kansas more economically competitive. Research shows Kansas has 104 rural hospitals and 83% of them are operating at a loss.
The presenters identified how Barton County would benefit from KanCare expansion. Over 750 residents would become eligible, 250 new jobs would be created, and over $6 million in new annual health-care spending would be achieved.
If you feel strongly about this issue, please, contact our representatives. This information is on the KSLegislature.org website:
House Rep. Tory Marie Blew (District 112), 620-603-8967,firstname.lastname@example.org;
House Rep. Brett Fairchild (District 113), 620-546-4510, Fairchild_2@hotmail.com;
Senator Alicia Straub (District 33), 620-564-2196, email@example.com.
President of League of Women Voters - Great Bend