July 1, 2020

Democratic Leaders in Kansas Call for Medicaid Expansion

Topeka, KS – Today, Democratic leaders are reaffirming the need for Medicaid expansion in Kansas to improve our state’s public health and economic viability. By allowing Kansas to draw down federal funding, Medicaid expansion would provide affordable healthcare services for up to 150,000 Kansans below the federal poverty threshold, fill coverage gaps and enhance critical healthcare access in rural communities and spur Kansas’s economy statewide.

Yesterday, Oklahoma voters approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid, making Kansas one of only thirteen states that has not expanded healthcare access. Hardworking Kansans have felt the repercussions of Republican inaction and obstructionism on healthcare for years, most recently with the closure of Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital, a rural healthcare facility in Leavenworth.

During the worst public health crisis in a century, Republican leadership in the Kansas legislature refused to bring a bipartisan Medicaid expansion bill to the floor for debate. In contrast, Democratic leaders in Kansans are championing our state’s need for Medicaid expansion to overcome the economic and public health consequences posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and to improve the lives of hardworking Kansans across the Sunflower State.

Read more from Democratic leaders in Kansas about the need to expand Medicaid: 

Governor Laura Kelly: “Last night, after years of obstruction by elected officials, Oklahomans from both sides of the aisle voted to prioritize affordable healthcare. Meanwhile, in Kansas in the midst of the worst public health crisis in a century, another hospital announced yesterday that it’s shuttering its doors – Saint Luke’s Cushing in Leavenworth. In the seven years that extremists in the legislature have blocked Medicaid expansion, Kansas has lost six hospitals, 150,000 Kansans are without access to life-saving healthcare, and we’ve lost more than $4 billion that would have been injected directly into our economy. We will introduce KanCare expansion next session, and I hope Republican Leadership puts politics aside, to work with my administration to keep Kansans healthy and keep Kansas open for business.”

Kansas Democratic Party Chair Vicki Hiatt: “Kansas needs Medicaid expansion to improve our access to reliable and affordable healthcare services, benefit our rural communities and spur economic development and job growth across Kansas. When voters reach the ballot box on November 3rd, they will remember how Republican leadership in the Kansas legislature continuously blocked Medicaid expansion during a public health and economic crisis and will elect Democrats statewide.”

U.S. Senate Candidate Barbara Bollier: “As a doctor and legislator, I’ve fought for years to expand Medicaid in Kansas. By doing so, 130,000 more working families and veterans would gain access to affordable health care. The pandemic has only underscored the importance of doing just that. It just makes sense. Republican leadership in our state has stood in the way of this bipartisan step for too long. I commend Oklahoma for passing this important legislation and encourage our state to do the same.”

Representative Sharice Davids (KS-03): “Too many Kansans are struggling to afford the cost of health care and prescription drugs – a problem that’s only growing amid this historic public health crisis. Now more than ever, Republicans in the Kansas legislature need to end their partisan obstruction and work with us to expand Medicaid, providing affordable, quality health care to an estimated 150,000 Kansans. I’ve been a vocal advocate for Medicaid expansion at the federal level and just this week I was able to secure a vote on legislation that would give our state urgently needed money to help cover the cost of expansion, which passed overwhelmingly. We should follow Oklahoma’s lead and ensure all Kansans have the affordable health care they need to stay healthy and safe.”

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley (SD-19): “Now more than ever Kansas needs to expand Medicaid. For nearly a decade now Republican leaders have stifled debate and action on this issue. Medicaid expansion is not only good for uninsured Kansans, it’s good for our state’s economy. Thousands of Kansans have lost their jobs and subsequently their health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They need access to affordable healthcare, get back to work and stay at work. A healthier, more productive workforce helps our economy grow. Additionally, expanding Medicaid ensures hospitals and clinics, particularly in rural areas, remain open and will create thousands of good-paying jobs.”

Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau (SD-29): “The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the health and economic viability of the Black community across the nation, a constituency that already lacks critical access to affordable healthcare services. As the nation calls for systemic change to address the existing racial disparities in our society, it is clear that Medicaid expansion must come at the top of the list. I am hopeful that my colleagues can put partisan differences aside during the 20-21 session of the Kansas legislature to finally pass a Medicaid expansion bill that will benefit struggling Kansans and our state at large.”

Representative Jim Ward (HD-86): “Kansas Republicans continue to weaken our healthcare system and our economy by their failure to expand Medicaid expansion. Democrats are ready to expand Medicaid today. And we’ve been ready since 2013.”


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