Governor Kelly: It’s time to expand Medicaid


The following column is from Governor Laura Kelly regarding Medicaid expansion:

With every passing day, more Kansans feel the impact of the state’s failure to expand Medicaid. It’s our neighbor struggling to get access to affordable healthcare. It’s a friend who works full-time – and works hard – but can’t afford private insurance or a doctor’s visit. It’s a working mother who can’t get mental health services to address her undiagnosed depression. It’s a young person with a disability who can’t get the health coverage he needs to continue working.

To date, Kansas has sent over $3.2 billion of our tax dollars to be used by other states to pay for their healthcare. That’s money that could go towards making Kansans healthier. It would also help Kansans who fall in the coverage gap – where they make slightly too much to get traditional Medicaid, but not nearly enough to afford private health insurance.

It’s not just patients who stand to lose if we fail to expand Medicaid. Our communities and local hospitals are struggling. According to some reports, 30 percent of our state’s hospitals are considered financially vulnerable. In small communities across our state, these facilities are at serious risk of closure.

Rural hospitals face numerous challenges and expansion won’t solve all of them. But all rural hospitals will benefit from Medicaid expansion proportionately, more than urban hospitals.

Many hospitals – both urban and rural – have high rates of uncompensated care. That means they are providing healthcare services for folks who can’t afford to pay. By expanding Medicaid, we can help their bottom line and infuse millions into our state’s economy.

Unfortunately, some Republican leaders still refuse to listen to the experts or acknowledge the success of the 36 states that already expanded Medicaid. They continue to ignore the resounding support voiced by Kansas families, businesses, child advocates and healthcare providers.

Expanding Medicaid is a commonsense, proven way to strengthen our state. We must move forward this year.

Last month, a bipartisan coalition in the Kansas House came together to pass expansion. It was a big step forward and I commend their courage and determination. But again this week, leaders in the Senate refused to allow a vote on Medicaid expansion.

Our friends, families and neighbors need Medicaid expansion.  Not only is it sound policy, it is the right thing to do. Call Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning and Senate President Susan Wagle at 1-800-432-3924 and demand a vote on Medicaid expansion.

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