Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Cindy Holscher, Rep. Rui Xu and Sen. Barbara Bollier are scheduled to send updates this week. Rep. Holscher’s column is below.
The work of expanding Medicaid continues in Kansas. For close to seven years a number of people – voters, healthcare advocates and legislators like myself who favor Medicaid Expansion – have worked to forward this important program. It is encouraging to see individuals who have worked to prevent expansion throughout that time now FINALLY coming to the table on this topic.
Not passing expansion in previous years has caused the state of Kansas to forfeit over $3.7 BILLION in federal tax dollars. That money should have been used to help our vulnerable population, our hospitals and our economy. Keep in mind, the population that would be affected through expansion consists largely of the working poor. This situation is compounded when you take into consideration that 85% of Kansas hospitals are operating with negative margins; expansion is needed to provide a life line to many of these facilities or access to health care will continue to be negatively impacted.
The progress on this topic has only occurred because of the unrelenting work on the part of proponents and voters/advocates who have called, emailed and showed up at the Capitol to press for expansion. Much gratitude to Gov. Kelly who has made Medicaid Expansion a priority of her office since day one. While we appear to be moving in a positive direction, there is much work left to do and this is far from “done.” There’s a great deal of procedural work that has to occur and it is quite likely, as in the past, that extremist factions will try to unravel work that is being carried out by attempting to add unrelated amendments and bureaucratic red tape in an effort to stop expansion. More than ever, it is vital that voters reach out to their state legislators and let them know we need to pass a clean plan. The people of Kansas have had to wait far too long for access to healthcare.