Kansas Poor People's campaign highlights human side of Medicaid expansion

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Advocates aimed to show the human side of Medicaid expansion.

The Kansas Poor People's campaign rallied at the Statehouse on Wednesday morning protesting lawmakers adjourning -- without acting on the issue.

Lawmakers in favor of Medicaid expansion tried unsuccessfully to block a budget vote before the session adjourned early Sunday.

But supporters say they aren't giving up.

"We're here because we know that 627 people will die this year because they did not have access to health insurance." Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan with Kansas Interfaith Action said.

Protesters dropped flowers to the Statehouse floor, they say each represents a person suffering from lack of health coverage.

"We named names of people, folks that people knew had died, we named situations, and we named groups of people that were affected including communities that lost their rural hospitals," Oglesby-Dunegan explained.

Retired school teacher Marsha Cox was among those who joined the demonstration.

"I'm mourning for those people who will die next year, it’s over 50 people every month that die because they don’t have health insurance and these are the working poor," Cox said.

Cox says lives are lost by not expanding Medicaid coverage -- people like small business owners, and workers who might wait on you at a restaurant or mow your lawn.

"These are the people that might die this next year all because this wasn't passed," Cox said.

Oglesby-Dunegan says they aren’t giving up and the fights not over.
“We're just going to buckle in and get it done because we think 627 people dying is worth fighting for,” Oglesby-Dunegan said.

The House passed an expansion bill, but the Senate refused to debate it -- instead, the chamber's leaders say they will study the issue, and introduce a new proposal next session.

Wednesday’s demonstrators say they'll be there May 29th for the legislature's official adjournment. In a last-ditch effort to force a vote.