Governor Kelly, Emporia Leaders Discuss Benefits of Medicaid Expansion for
Child Care Workforce 

– Today, Governor Laura Kelly hosted a Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy tour roundtable in Emporia to discuss how expanding Medicaid would address the statewide child care shortage by making it easier for providers to recruit and retain employees. Providers and community leaders shared how extending health insurance to child care workers would make it more likely that those workers join and stay in the workforce – and would help the child care centers the Kansas economy relies upon be fully staffed.  

“Parents rely on affordable, quality child care to participate in the workforce and contribute to our economy,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Yet right now, far too many of our child care centers are struggling to find the workers they need to keep their doors open, as workers leave the industry or even the state because they don’t have health insurance. We must expand Medicaid to extend health insurance to more working Kansans, so child care providers can recruit and retain workers and create more options for Kansas families.” 

Here’s how Medicaid expansion would benefit the child care workforce: 

  • More than 24% of Kansas child care workers would be eligible for Medicaid if the state were to expand it. 
  • Medicaid enrollees across multiple studies have shared that Medicaid supports or improves their ability to work. A study showed that approximately 84% of Medicaid enrollees said having Medicaid made it easier to work.
  • Medicaid expansion reduces absenteeism by increasing access to preventative and behavioral health screenings, prescriptions, and treatment for chronic conditions. Employees are more likely to miss work when they are not healthy. 

The event was held at the Emporia Child Care Center. 

“For the majority of child care programs, employee-sponsored health insurance is prohibitively expensive,” said Deb Crowl, Administrator of the Emporia Child Care Center.  “Medicaid expansion will help stabilize the child care workforce and in turn contribute to economic well-being of our community. Having access to high quality and affordable child care is essential for the working families of today and an early investment in the next generation of Kansas workers.” 

“High quality yet affordable child care is of paramount concern to each of us as evidenced in our discussions today,” said Michelle Margeson, Director of Ignite Emporia, Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are grateful for the support and trust being given to us on the state level through the Kansas Children’s Cabinet & Trust Fund and Governor Laura Kelly.” 

According to the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, more than 1,100 Lyon County residents would become eligible for Medicaid if the Kansas legislature were to pass an expansion bill. 380 new jobs would be created in Lyon County and more than $10 million in new annual health care spending would  be generated. 

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

Roundtable participants included: 

  • State Senator Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia 
  • State Representative Mark Schreiber, R-Emporia 
  • Deb Crowl, Administrator, Emporia Child Care Center 
  • Michelle Margeson, Director of Ignite Emporia, Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce 
  • Dr. Allison Anderson-Harder, Superintendent, Emporia Public Schools 
  • Heather Aylward, Chief Nursing Officer, Newman Regional Health 
  • Jerrica French, Director, Angel Wings Learning Center 
  • Desiree Streight, early childhood educator and family child care owner 

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