Government holds roundtable discussion of Medicaid expansion

Published: Oct. 31, 2023 at 6:43 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly held a roundtable discussion with mental health experts and community leaders Tuesday morning surrounding Medicaid expansion in Kansas.

In Tuesday’s discussion, the group talked about how the expansion would improve behavioral and mental health care for Kansans.

Calais Sherry said her life has been personally affected by having insurance at some points, and being uncovered at others.

“I feel like if we could look at expanding health care in a positive manner it would encourage people to look at helping themselves in a positive manner. Needing help is not a bad thing — we all need help from time to time,” said Sherry. “Mental health is something that you need everyday for the rest of your life.”

Valeo Behavioral Health Care CEO, Bill Persinger, said expansion would help Kansans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance.

“It’s known that people who have insurance of one kind or another, who have access to health care are healthier,” said Persinger. “They can work harder and longer, they can contribute to society, and many of us believe there will be an actual return on investment if we spend the dollars to expand Medicaid — that we’ll get that back many times over.”

Governor Kelly, in a press release announced on Tuesday, the Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department in Fort Scott will be closing in December.

Leaders said that if expansion if pursued, other rural hospitals may not have to shut their doors.

“It would do wonders for our health care workforce. Right now, we are an island — a Medicaid island in the Midwest. Every state around us has expanded Medicaid,” said Kelly. “We are bleeding our health care workers across the borders because they can get paid more and get reimbursed for their services.”

Republican House Speaker, Dan Hawkins, continues to dispute the Governors claims. After 13 NEWS contacted Hawkins, he responded with the statement below.

Republican leaders did not bring a Medicaid expansion bill to the floor for a vote last session.