One of the most contentious issues of the past few years moves front and center on Monday of next week when the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion holds its first meeting. (Medicaid is called KanCare in Kansas.) Polling shows that up to 87% of Kansans support Medicaid expansion yet efforts to pass a bill have been crushed by the intransigence of Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning (R-Overland Park). The Kansas House of Representatives has voted multiple times to pass expansion.

The council will study expansion models in other states and report findings. It will not develop new legislation. The council will meet three times before the end of the year and develop goals for responsible expansion in Kansas.

Nearly 150,000 working Kansans currently go without any health insurance because they are caught in a coverage gap. They earn too much to qualify for Affordable Care Act (ACA) help but too little to get on Medicaid. Private insurance is unaffordable. KNEA supports KanCare/Medicaid expansion for a number of reasons.

While teachers have employer provided health insurance, some who serve our students don’t. Part-time workers don’t always get employer-provided insurance and can’t afford to pay the premiums even if it is offered. Students in low income families might be on the state children’s health insurance program but their parents may be going without. These families are one medical issue away from having to choose between medical care and putting food on the table.

KNEA is part of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas which is calling upon lawmakers to expand KanCare in the 2020 legislative session and to do so without any delays or barriers that prevent access.

You can learn more about the NO BARRIERS, NO DELAYS initiative by attending one of the Alliance’s community events. The first of these will be held in Topeka on October 2 in the Parlor Room of the First Baptist Church at 3033 MacVicar Ave. The one-hour event begins at 6:30. For more information, click here.

A second event will be held at the Oak Park Library in Overland Park beginning at 6:00 on October 8. For more information on this meeting, click here.

More evening events are being arranged around the state including Pratt, Emporia, Wichita, and Salina. Sessions in other locations are scheduled in the early morning or over lunch. Keep watching here or on Facebook for information on those meetings or visit the Alliance’s website.