Governor Kelly Talks Lowering Costs for Kansans During Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy Tour Roundtable

Today, Governor Laura Kelly traveled to Overland Park to host a “Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy” Tour roundtable with health care experts and business leaders focused on how expanding Medicaid would reduce costs for all Kansans. This is the fourth stop on Governor Kelly’s statewide tour, which launched in Winfield last month and has included visits to Garden City and Pittsburg. 

“The reality is, we can’t afford not to expand Medicaid,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Since states have had the option to expand Medicaid, Kansas has watched as billions of our own federal taxpayer dollars have gone to support workers and hospitals in other states while healthcare costs have risen and hospitals have closed here at home. It makes no sense.” 

The roundtable was held at REACH Healthcare Foundation, a charitable foundation that works to improve health coverage and increase access to quality, affordable care for uninsured Kansans in Johnson, Wyandotte, and Allen counties.  

Donna Ginther, the Roy A. Roberts & Regents Distinguished Professor of Economics and Director of the Institute for Policy & Social Research at the University of Kansas, participated in the roundtable and shared her recent research on the costs of our failure to expand Medicaid.  

“Our research shows that Kansans are paying a huge price by not expanding Medicaid.  Kansans with families are paying higher insurance premiums compared to states where Medicaid was expanded,” said Dr. Donna Ginther. “Mill levies allocated to support hospitals have increased by one-third since the state failed to expand Medicaid. Despite these increased mill levies, 8 hospitals have closed leaving Kansans without access to critical health care services.” 

Susan Rome, Deputy Director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center,  shared how the state’s failure to expand Medicaid wastes Kansan taxpayer dollars. 

“Failure to expand Medicaid has sidelined too many of our neighbors in Johnson County, keeping them from getting help for mental illnesses or substance use disorders because they don’t have access to affordable behavioral health care,” said Susan Rome. “For those that do seek treatment, Johnson County Mental Health Center provided $6 million in charitable care in 2022, including to 60% of our adult clients who aren’t eligible for Medicaid. Johnson County taxpayers are seeing their federal income taxes pay for Medicaid in other states, while their property taxes are funding the same services at home.” 

By law, 90% of the costs to expand Medicaid would be funded by the federal government with the state providing 10% of funds to match. Kansas has left more than $6.6 billion federal dollars on the table while waiting for Medicaid Expansion. Kansans can call their state legislators at 800-432-3924. 

Other roundtable participants included: 

  • Lynette Sparkman-Barnes, Chairman of the Board of Directors, REACH Healthcare Foundation 
  • Guy Collier, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, REACH Healthcare Foundation 
  • Kevin Walker, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Overland Park Chamber of Commerce 
  • Karole Bradford, Chief Executive Officer, Kansas City Medical Society Foundation 
  • Monica Natzke, Chief Nursing Officer, AdventHealth Kansas City 

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