Health Forward Foundation

Kansans have another chance to expand Medicaid

Amy Houston of Mulvane, Kansas, has advocated for Kansas to expand Medicaid on behalf of herself and 150,000 other Kansans.

Amy's Pizza Place


Just 38 years old, Amy Houston of Mulvane, Kansas, has accomplished a lot.

At 21, she bought a restaurant, which she still owns and operates. She’s a volunteer firefighter and sits on the local school board. Amy is a single mom with four sons, ranging in age from 4 to 19.

Amy is also a cancer patient with a mountain of medical debt. For most of the past decade, she’s been uninsured. She earns too much to be eligible for KanCare, the Kansas Medicaid program, but not enough to qualify for financial assistance to buy private insurance. She falls into the Medicaid coverage gap.

So, Amy is an advocate for expanding KanCare. She was the star witness in testimony before the Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, which considered a bill to expand KanCare coverage to Amy and 150,000 other Kansans caught in the coverage gap.

In 2008, Amy was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fortunately, in addition to running her restaurant, Amy had a corporate job so she could have health insurance. For a while, she was able to juggle her schedule, working long hours so she could have four consecutive days off for chemotherapy.  

But when she needed daily radiation treatments, Amy couldn’t continue working. She lost her job and her insurance. And the debts started to pile up.

Thankfully, Amy’s cancer went into remission. She spent the next several years running her restaurant and trying to pay her bills. Then, in 2013, the cancer returned.  

Amy started treatment and once again the bills rolled in. She tried multiple times to buy insurance, but each time was told she was in the coverage gap. She eventually decided that more chemo, more radiation, and more debt would be too much. So she stopped treatment.  

To this day, Amy is unaware of the status of her cancer and her health. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s why Amy was joined by more than 140 other Kansans in presenting testimony in favor of KanCare expansion to the Senate Health Committee. That’s why hundreds more attended the hearing, filling the hearing room and pouring out into the halls of the statehouse.

Amy told the committee she’s a proud Kansan by choice because of the opportunities she’s had to own her own business and be involved in her community. She loves her small town, her neighbors, and her lifestyle. She was even featured once in a video promoting Kansas.

Amy doesn’t want to have to move somewhere else to get the health coverage she can’t get here. She appealed to committee members to put themselves in her shoes. She asked them to consider the farmers and ranchers and budding entrepreneurs who want to make it on their own – but can’t do it without health coverage.

The committee listened. Thanks to Amy and the thousands of Kansans who have been advocating for KanCare expansion, the bill passed out of committee.  

The Kansas Senate is now responsible for the bill’s future. Please call your state senator and urge their support of Senate Bill (SB) 38 – “Establishing the KanCare Bridge to a Healthy Kansas Program.” You can find your senator on Open States

Amy and 150,000 other Kansans are counting on them.


CATEGORIES
Health Reform, Policy

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Health Forward's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact Health Forward Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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