New alliance advances KanCare expansion discussions
By Jennifer Sykes on December 7, 2016 Communications Officer Health Forward Foundation
As 2016 winds down, we begin our annual blog series where Health Forward associates review highlights from our work this past year. In our third post, Jennifer Sykes highlights the creation and momentum of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas. Join us as we look back on 2016. In case you haven’t heard – Kansas is in a budget crisis. Schools are underfunded, many of our local hospitals are at risk of closure, and thousands of Kansans go without needed health care. Health advocates, including the Health Care Foundation, believe in a solution that would address both the budget crisis AND our health care needs: by bringing back millions of our federal tax dollars through KanCare expansion. Elected officials in Topeka have turned away nearly $2 million — and that’s $2 million each day, not annually — of our federal tax dollars by not expanding Medicaid. Instead of investing and developing a Kansas solution to both improve and expand KanCare, these funds have gone to other states. It’s with the mission of expanding health care coverage for the uninsured, that Health Forward and our fellow funders in Kansas provided grant dollars to form the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas in February. Over 100 diverse organizations have joined the alliance and its efforts to expand KanCare.Since March, the Alliance has been successful in nurturing the momentum throughout the state. It began with developing a strategic communications plan to communicate the benefits of expanding KanCare, and the work continues through engaging news, partner organizations, and grassroots supporters.There have been over 30 Alliance events and nearly two-dozen community events attended by 1,500 people, including candidates for office. These events have covered benefits of expansion, stories of Kansans who need coverage, and what Kansans can do to effect change. Over 100 media stories have been published about the importance of expanding KanCare. During last month’s election, we saw electoral victories for national and state candidates who seek to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Voters in the state of Kansas spoke differently though, and elected a number of state legislators — on both sides of the aisle — who have publicly expressed support for Medicaid expansion, a component of the ACA. For the first time since the ACA was introduced, Kansas is poised to have a positive discussion about how to expand health care coverage in the coming session. This groundswell of public and political support for Medicaid expansion is the result of the state’s financial and political context, as well as the hard work of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas. Now more than ever it is important that policymakers at the state and national level hear from their constituents. They need to know that all Kansans need to have access to quality, affordable health care, and that expansion efforts across the nation are working. Here’s how you can help:
Health Forward 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 Officer Jennifer Sykes, at firstname.lastname@example.org.