By the Editorial Board | July 30, 2019
A new study shows lack of Medicaid expansion in 14 states, including Kansas, has caused 15,600 deaths that likely would have been averted with full expansion. The study is the latest in a growing body of evidence that Medicaid expansion is a cost-effective way to provide health care to low-income Kansans.
Medicaid is the primary way low-income Americans, mostly children, receive health care. More than 400,000 Kansans are covered by Medicaid, also called KanCare, in Kansas. The program covers children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly. KanCare is also a major source of funding for many hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers, particularly those operating in rural areas with thin margins.
An additional 150,000 Kansans fall into what advocates have called “the coverage gap,” making too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance. These Kansans are mostly the working poor, those employed in jobs that do not offer health insurance. More than 70 percent of uninsured Americans work in jobs not offering employer-funded insurance, and many of the remaining uninsured cannot afford their employer’s insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.