Kansas, like Missouri, is one of the 19 states that has not expanded health coverage to low-income families through the Medicaid program, which is Kansas is known as KanCare. As a result, more than 150,000 Kansans currently fall into a health coverage gap. They earn too much to qualify for KanCare but too little to be eligible to get financial help to buy private insurance. These are hard-working men and women here in Kansas who are stuck with few options for affordable health coverage.
To close that gap, a diverse coalition of over 100 businesses, civic and health care organizations from across the state came together this spring to form the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas to urge our state to expand KanCare now.
The Alliance, which is supported by the Health Forward Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation, Wyandotte Health Foundation, Sunflower Foundation, United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, and Kansas Health Foundation is dedicated to engaging communities to become involved in promoting policies aimed at health equity and assuring everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. We believe that by unifying our voices we will become much harder to ignore.
The first policy goal of the Alliance is expanding KanCare. Expanding KanCare would bring hundreds of millions of Kansas’ federal tax dollars back home, insure more than 150,000 Kansans, cover unpaid health care costs that are hurting our hospitals, create thousands of jobs, and help stimulate our economy. Many of the states that have embraced expansion are led by Republican governors and conservative legislatures — if they can find state-based solutions, so can Kansas.
Unfortunately, the legislature and Governor Sam Brownback have failed to take action or event debate expanding KanCare. As result, Kansas has lost over $1.3 billion of our tax dollars by not expanding KanCare.
To give Kansans an opportunity to weigh in on the impact not expanding KanCare has on them and their community as well as the benefits of expanding KanCare, we launched a series of KanCare Community Action events. In June and July, we hosted 12 meetings that engaged community members, health care providers, and non-profit leaders in a discussion about why we need to expand KanCare. Over 550 Kansans attended the events, which we held across the state.
At the forums, doctors described how they are forced to spend time begging for charity care for patients in the coverage gap, hardworking Kansans who are in the gap described how they are struggling to pay for medical care and raise a family, and heard about how important expanding KanCare is to our community mental health centers, hospitals, and health centers.
The forums have shined a light on how expanding Kancare impacts all Kansans. Over the next months we will continue to engage thousands more Kansans in forums and discussions about how important expanding KanCare is to every residents of the state. Our work will educate stakeholders and build support and momentum for the effort to close the coverage gap.
To be successful, we need your help in spreading the news about our effort. To stay up-to-date, sign-up for to receive email updates at www.expandkancare.com, you can also follow us on Twitter at @ExpandKanCare and on Facebook: https://facebook.com/ExpandKanCare/.
Finally, I would ask you to let Gov. Brownback and candidates for office know how important expanding KanCare is to you and to Kansas by signing and sharing our online petition, action.expandkancare.com.