The Four Arguments You Will Hear Against Medicaid Expansion

Governor Laura Kelly last week launched her “Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy” tour to rally Kansans in support of Medicaid Expansion. As Governor Kelly pushes for the legislature to vote to accept federal funding that would allow thousands more working Kansans to access health insurance, here are some of the arguments people may hear against Medicaid Expansion and the context necessary to evaluate them.

Argument 1: “Medicaid expansion encourages able-bodied Kansans not to work.”

  • Medicaid expansion enrollees are more likely to be working or looking for work than the general public, unless they are ill or have other family responsibilities. More than 80% of the working-age, able-bodied adults enrolled in Medicaid work full or part time, act as caregivers for family members, or are students.
  • The most common jobs among adults in the coverage gap are cashier, cook, wait staff, construction laborer, housekeeper, retail salesperson, and janitor – jobs that are essential to the Kansas economy but are in industries that don’t always provide health insurance.
  • Surveys from Ohio and Michigan found that Medicaid expansion made it easier for beneficiaries to find work.
  • Census data shows that there are nearly 140,000 Kansans who work but do not have health insurance.

Argument 2: “Kansas can’t afford Medicaid expansion.”

  • Research from states including Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, and Virginia shows that states save money due to expansion because they spend less on incarceration and services and increase revenue.
  • Kansas does not save money by refusing expansion – it simply gives up the opportunity to bring tax dollars back to Kansas. Since states have had the option to expand Medicaid, Kansas has lost out on over $6.6 billion in federal dollars that could have gone to support rural hospitals.
  • If Medicaid is expanded, Kansas could receive an additional $370 million in federal dollars – on top of normal expansion funds – over the next 2 years, which would cover the state’s share of expansion costs for up to 8 years.

Argument 3: “Medicaid expansion will raise taxes for everyday Kansans.”

Argument 4: “Medicaid expansion has exacerbated the mental health crisis in America.”

  • Expanding access to health insurance through Medicaid would also expand access to mental health services. Right now, without access to care, individuals experiencing mental health crises or struggling with substance use disorders frequently end up in emergency rooms or jails, putting a huge strain on hospitals, courts, and law enforcement.
  • Research shows that expansion has been associated with improved access to care and medication for people with depression, even in communities experiencing a mental health profession shortage.
  • Medicaid Expansion is associated with the increased likelihood that people will seek treatment in a timely manner and use medications prescribed by their care provider.

Governor Kelly encourages Kansans to contact their legislators and make sure they know the truth: Medicaid expansion would cut costs for Kansans, save rural hospitals, and grow our economy. It must pass this upcoming legislative session.