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Group campaigns for KanCare expansion

(WIBW/Jace Mills)
(WIBW/Jace Mills)(WIBW)
Published: May. 9, 2016 at 7:07 PM CDT
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Alliance for a Healthy Kansas launched a campaign to urge state lawmakers to expand KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, at the Statehouse on Thursday.

“We came here to kick-off our campaign,” said David Jordan, executive director of Alliance for a Healthy Kansas. “We will be active in every single legislative district during this interim session since the legislature failed to expand KanCare this year. We need to make sure they know how important it is to every Kansan in the state.”

The group says expansion would help Kansans the estimated 150,000 Kansans that do not qualify for subsidy through the Affordable Care Act but also cannot afford a private plan.

Marcillene Dover, a student who suffers from Multiple sclerosis, said she falls into the health care coverage gap.

“The majority of the people that would qualify for KanCare expansion are working,” said Dover. “We’re not looking for a handout. We just can’t afford the expensive premiums under the Affordable Care Act.”

Dover said she is currently receiving health coverage through Project Access in Sedgwick County.

David Toland, executive director of Thrive Allen County, said that legislature is “knowingly inflecting pain” on rural communities by not expanding KanCare.

“Rural Kansas has plenty of challenges as it is,” said Toland. “We don't need more headwinds working against us and what's happening with the lack of KanCare expansion is that small communities are suffering and needlessly so.”

Opponents say KanCare expansion would be costly to Kansans taxpayers and there are alternatives to expansion.

“Republicans recently approved creative and innovative solutions that actually expand healthcare access, such as through charity care and the physician licensure compact that increases patient options for telemedicine and medical specialists,” said Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick (R-Stillwell) in an emailed statement.

Eileen Hawley, spokesperson for Governor Sam Brownback, said the Governor will not support an expansion plan that doesn’t have a work requirement or puts the needs of able-bodied adults above the needs of the disabled and vulnerable citizens.

“The state would be responsible for all added administrative costs as well as its higher share of coverage for other eligible citizens outside the expansion group who enroll,” said Hawley. “The claim that Medicaid will add thousands of new jobs has been repeatedly disproven.”

Alliance for a Healthy Kansas said they have a coalition of 100 community leaders and organizations that are joining their efforts. They plan to send postcards, knock on doors, and make phone calls until election day.