Kansas stands alone against Medicaid expansion in region

By April Holman | August 31, 2020

On Aug. 4, Missouri voters went to the polls and passed a referendum to expand Medicaid. Just a month earlier, voters in Oklahoma did the same.
Now that Missouri and Oklahoma have joined Colorado and Nebraska to become expansion states, Kansas truly stands alone as the last holdout in our region.
Since 2014, all states have had the option to expand income eligibility guidelines for Medicaid, a health insurance program for lower-income Americans, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Under federal law, states that opt in to expansion are required to pay only 10 percent of the costs. The federal government covers the remaining 90 percent. It’s a deal that most states couldn’t refuse.
In Kansas, expansion of KanCare (what our state Medicaid program is called) has wide support from business groups and chambers of commerce, faith communities, hospitals and health care providers, and advocates of all stripes. Even the majority of legislators—from both parties—support expansion. Unfortunately, a small handful of lawmakers in key leadership positions have blocked expansion at every turn.
It’s time for our state legislature to do the right thing and expand Medicaid.
April Holman is executive director of Alliance for a Healthy Kansas.