Though Via Christi Health is disappointed in the governor’s veto of House Bill 2044, and last week’s close House vote to sustain it, we are pleased that an overwhelming number of lawmakers in both the House and Senate voted in support of KanCare expansion.
The courage these lawmakers demonstrated by supporting this issue will not be lost on us or the 82 percent of Kansans who support the expansion. The Legislature is only beginning to formalize a budget, and we continue to believe our budget-neutral approach to KanCare expansion remains important to those conversations.
In serving Kansas, Via Christi has a strong commitment to providing compassionate, personalized care to all with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Accomplishing this mission requires a public-private partnership. Achieving coverage expansion in Kansas is a priority, so together we can help to deliver on this important mission.
Those impacted by not expanding KanCare are hard-working Kansans who need access to affordable health care. They currently earn too much to qualify for KanCare, but too little to be eligible to get financial help to purchase private insurance. They are working Kansans who fall into the coverage gap and are considered the “near poor.” They have few options for affordable health coverage.
Routine health care services help prevent and manage health concerns, but people without health care coverage typically refrain from seeking regular care. Without regular care, the uninsured often wait until their health concerns reach the point of needing emergency care, which comes at a higher cost than preventive care.
It is our hope that lawmakers can come together to support those who are the lowest-income uninsured. In expanding coverage to hardworking Kansans through a fiscally responsible, patient-centered plan for our state, we can make a difference for so many and protect the safety net for those who need it.
Congress recently signaled that the opportunity for states to expand their Medicaid programs will remain the law of the land, at least for the foreseeable future. Kansas has the opportunity to reclaim tax dollars that are sent to Washington, D.C., and bring them back to Kansas to benefit people here at home.
As a state, we should be on the right side of this equation, or else we will continue to be placed at both an economic and competitive disadvantage.
Now is the time to act. There is no reason to wait.
Mike Mullins is president and chief executive officer of Via Christi Health and senior vice president and Kansas market executive for Ascension.