ICYMI: Governor Kelly: Kansas Lawmakers Voted to Expand Medicaid Before. Make It Happen Now.
KEY QUOTE: “We’re headed into an election year when legislators will have to answer to voters for their inaction: Why are they allowing hospitals in their communities to close? Why are they standing by as we lose workers to other states? Why do they look the other way as Kansans die from preventable causes? And why are they holding our economy back? Enough is enough. It is time for the Legislature to stand up for their communities and their constituents.”
Governor Kelly: Kansas Lawmakers Voted to Expand Medicaid Before. Make It Happen Now.
Governor Laura Kelly, Special to the Kansas City Star
September 24, 2023
- In 2017, Republicans and Democrats in the Kansas Legislature joined together to expand Medicaid, passing legislation that would have allowed the state to accept federal funding and give thousands of working Kansans access to health insurance. Then-Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed the measure, citing a budget crisis caused by his own tax experiment.
- In the years since, six rural hospitals in our state have closed, costing surrounding communities thousands of jobs. Today, 60 of our 104 remaining rural hospitals are at risk of shutting their doors, a higher percentage than any other state in the country. Kansas has lost out on $6.5 billion in federal funds — money the state’s taxpayers paid, which could be going to support those hospitals.
- Medicaid expansion lowers costs for everyone. If an uninsured Kansan goes to the emergency room and can’t pay for care, the hospital often has to raise prices for everyone else to cover the costs. That’s why studies show that places where Medicaid has not been expanded see outrageous spikes in the cost of private health insurance.
- Medicaid expansion improves health care in rural areas. Right now, too many Kansans have to drive hours or wait months to receive basic care because the nearest doctor is far away or completely booked up. Expansion would help our remaining hospitals keep their doors open and recruit more doctors and nurses so it’s faster and easier to get care.
- Medicaid expansion grows our economy. Since I’ve taken office, Kansas has attracted more than $17 billion of private investment, but that number would be even higher if we had a more robust health care system to attract businesses and workers. Businesses already in the state would benefit too. It’s common sense: A healthier workforce is a more productive workforce.