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Expand Medicaid

To the editor:

It’s time for Kansas to adopt Medicaid expansion. Kansas is now one of just 10 states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs.

Being a long-time resident of this county, I know expanding Medicaid would benefit many aspects of this state, including rural Kansas counties like ours.

Now, I know what most of you are probably thinking: $$$. A program like this, especially with the word “expansion,” sounds expensive.

As a hard-working, taxpaying American citizen, you may be worried that your tax dollars will increase because of the implementation of this expansion.

However, I am here to tell you the expansion of Medicaid will do the exact opposite of that.

Affordable Care Act policies state that the federal government will distribute 90% of funds to newly eligible Medicaid expansion enrollees, typically leaving the state to bear 10% of the weight.

The American Rescue Plan Act, adopted in 2021, gives states that have not yet expanded an additional 5% (approximately $370 million) to cover the states’ share for two years.

Right now, hospital districts and counties like Marion are utilizing taxpayer money to keep local hospitals afloat.

According to an article released by the governor’s office, Kansas already has lost out on $6.6 billion since states began having the option to expand Medicaid.

With the federal government taking the brunt of expenses from rural hospitals and other local health care agencies, this leaves more money to be spent on schools and repairing roads or even going back into Kansans’ pockets.

Another argument against Medicaid expansion is that expanding Medicaid encourages individuals not to work and to become dependent on “welfare.”

However, with Governor Laura Kelly’s Medicaid expansion proposal, people applying for Medicaid must submit proof of work at the time of entry and then again at the time of renewal 12 months later.

There are, of course, exceptions to this requirement for people who are full-time students, caregivers, or veterans, or who have medical conditions.

Expanding Medicaid is essential to keeping health care alive in this state. Since 2005, ten rural hospitals have closed because of financial challenges.

How much more evidence do we need that rural communities need affordable health care?

Let’s keep health care in Kansas affordable and available to all. Expand Medicaid.

Madi Pankratz
Hillsboro n

Last modified March 6, 2024

 

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