Addressing the Issues: Protect Our Local Hospitals
Just over a year ago, the hospital in Independence, Kansas, closed and the lack of Medicaid expansion was consistently cited as an important factor. It would be a tragedy to allow that to happen in other rural communities – especially when we have a solution. Below is a letter that we sent to all candidates to let them know that we need to expand KanCare to protect our communities and our hospitals.
Today, more than 150,000 hardworking Kansans fall into a health coverage gap. They earn too much to qualify for KanCare but too little to be eligible to get financial help to buy private insurance. These are hardworking Kansans with few options for affordable coverage.
As a result, our hospitals, safety net clinics, mental health centers and other providers care for thousands of these hardworking Kansans without being paid. According to a national study, this puts more than 30 of our local hospitals at risk of closure and weakens the overall health care system. The hospital in Independence, Kansas, closed last year and the lack of Medicaid expansion was consistently cited as an important factor. It would be a tragedy to allow that to happen in other rural communities – especially when we have a solution.
To address the problem and to protect our local hospitals, providers and communities, we need to improve and expand KanCare. A budget-neutral, state-specific solution to expand KanCare is a fiscally responsible way to provide hardworking Kansans with access to affordable health care coverage. Every day we delay expanding KanCare, we lose more than $1.9 million of Kansans’ federal tax dollars.
Expanding KanCare will benefit all hospitals, safety net clinics, and other community providers. Hospitals in rural communities stand to gain significantly. They are also more likely to be major employers in their communities. As a result, the increase in revenues from having more covered patients greatly assist those rural hospitals and the communities they serve.
Not expanding KanCare could limit access to health care in all Kansas communities. At the same time, our safety net clinics and mental health centers are also providing tens of millions of dollars in free care, which is putting them at risk financially and hindering their ability to add needed staff and services and serve more patients.
Expanding KanCare is good for Kansas because it protects our hospitals, our providers and the ability of Kansans to get access to health care where they live and work. You can learn more at www.expandkancare.com. We look forward to continuing this conversation in the coming weeks.
Alliance for a Health Kansas Steering Committee