By Greg Lower | Aug. 1, 2019

Rural health officials are pushing to expand KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, to cover nearly 150,000 additional people.

Dennis Franks, Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer, said rural health care in Kansas is facing a crisis, and expanding the program would not only help hospitals but also mental health, substance abuse and other health programs.

Franks, who also is the board chairman of the Kansas Hospital Association, said many hospital CEOs he has talked to have the same ideas.

The District of Columbia and 36 states have expanded their Medicaid programs, according to information from the group Alliance for a Healthy Kansas. It said 85 percent of rural hospitals have a negative operating margin and many rural hospitals receive substantial local tax subsidies to remain open. Still, four rural hospitals have closed in the past three years and 29 are at high risk of closure.

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