Governor Kelly, Agriculture Leaders
Discuss Medicaid Expansion During Manhattan Roundtable 

— Today, Governor Laura Kelly traveled to Manhattan to host a Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy tour roundtable focused on how expanding Medicaid expansion would benefit the Kansas agriculture industry. Farmers, ranchers, and legislators joined to share health care issues facing the ag industry – including long wait times and a lack of mental health resources– and discussed how giving thousands more working Kansans access to health insurance could address these challenges. 

“Agriculture is the backbone of the Kansas economy, yet our farmers and ranchers often face unnecessary obstacles to accessing essential care,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Expanding Medicaid would protect rural hospitals and lower healthcare costs for everyone – including ag businesses –so our agriculture industry and economy can continue to flourish.”  

Here’s how Medicaid Expansion would benefit rural Kansas communities and the agriculture industry: 

  • The Kansas agriculture industry has the 4th highest percentage of workers who would potentially be eligible for Medicaid if it were expanded. 
  • Of Kansas’ 104 rural hospitals, 58% are at risk of closing their doors. When a rural hospital closes, it devastates the local economy. Being in a Medicaid expansion state decreases the likelihood of a rural hospital closing by 62%. 
  • Farmers are more at risk for suicide than any other type of worker in Kansas, and they need hospitals and other mental health care providers to remain open. 

“I have long dealt with medical care for our soldiers and veterans. The pressures facing our farmers are the same,” said Kansas State Representative Michael Dodson. “Kansas ranks dead last in mental health. Kansas also has significant issues in rural health care. Although nearly 80% of Kansans want Medicaid expansion, those who oppose it have offered no plans to improve the health care we have. Kansas continues to send money to Washington for the 40 states that have adopted Medicaid Expansion. Meanwhile, Kansas has lost nearly $7 billion since federal implementation.” 

“Access to care in rural areas is crucial to the health and wellbeing of Kansas farmers and ranchers,” said Matt Splitter, Board Member of Kansas Corn. “While they’re working hard to propel our economy, surrounding hospitals are struggling to keep their doors open, making access to crucial mental and physical care difficult for rural communities. Medicaid expansion would give more Kansas farmers and ranchers health insurance while supporting rural hospitals so they can get health care in their own communities.” 

According to the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, more than 2,600 Riley County residents and more than 700 Geary County residents would become eligible for Medicaid if the Kansas legislature were to pass an expansion bill. Additionally, more than 870 new jobs would be created in Riley County and nearly 250 jobs would be created in Geary County under Medicaid expansion. More than $29 million in new annual health care spending would be generated in the counties combined.  

Kansans can call their state legislators and ask them to expand Medicaid at 800-432-3924. 

Roundtable participants included:

  • State Representative Mike Dodson, R-Manhattan 
  • State Representative Kenny Titus, R-Manhattan 
  • Matt Splitter, Board Member, Kansas Corn
  • Thad Geiger, Chair, Kansas Board of Agriculture 
  • Nick Levendofsky, Executive Director, Kansas Farmers Union 
  • Chrysanne Grund, Project Director, Greeley County Health Services 
  • Scott Thellman, Member, Kansas Board of Agriculture and Former President, Kansas Specialty Crop Association 
  • Erin Petersilie, Health Plan Director, Kansas Farm Bureau 
  • Andrea de Jesus, Owner, A&H Farm and President of the Downtown Farmer’s Market of Manhattan 

Photos from today’s event for media use can be found below: