By Kelly Sommers

As a registered nurse who has worked primarily in Shawnee County visiting patients in the home, I have seen firsthand the difficulty that Kansas citizens face every day regarding access to health care, especially primary care, due to lack of insurance. If they seek health care, it is through hospital emergency rooms.

This was an untenable choice before the global pandemic and one that could now pose even deadlier consequences.

Expanding Medicaid to include those making up to 138 percent of poverty level will deliver health care to thousands of hard-working Kansans who contribute much to our communities and our economy.

This includes health care workers like home health aides and other essential workers like grocery store clerks, delivery drivers and child care providers. Narrowing the coverage gap through expansion will provide access to care to an estimated 93,000 adults and 39,000 children.

Dozens of associations, including AARP, the Kansas Hospital Association and the Kansas State Nurses Association, have pledged their support of Medicaid expansion.

Kansas hospitals are struggling financially. Since 2006 we have seen eight hospital closures, including two in 2020. Many more hanging on by a thread. Medicaid expansion could help alleviate some of this crisis in care that sees some residents driving 40 miles or more for care. This extra time can mean the difference between life and death.

Kelly Sommers is state director of the Kansas State Nurses Association