By: Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star | May 6, 2022
After giving birth to her third child, Stephanne Rupnicki spent the next year fighting an infection from breastfeeding.
She needed antibiotics but, like 14,000 Kansas women each year, she had gone on Medicaid during her pregnancy but lost coverage eight weeks after giving birth.
For the next 10 months, Rupnicki had to regularly decide whether she could afford to go to the doctor for antibiotics and pay out of pocket. She seldom went, needing to ensure she had enough money to care for her family’s three children.
“As a mom you kind of always put yourself on the back burner, and our health shouldn’t be put on the back burner because we are the ones taking care of our baby,” said Rupnicki, who lives in Jackson County, just north of Topeka.
“If I go to the doctor, I’m going to have this outrageous bill that I’m not going to be able to afford.”
Now, under a provision approved in Kansas’ latest budget, women like Rupnicki would no longer have to make that choice until their babies are older.
Kansas lawmakers approved a $16 billion budget that extends Medicaid coverage to new mothers from eight weeks to a full year. The $4.2 million yearly allocation was originally requested in Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s budget proposal in January. It gained bipartisan support.