Advocates Gather for Medicaid Expansion Rally in Topeka

On January 14, 2020, the second day of the Kansas Legislative Session, advocates gathered on the second floor of the State Capitol to encourage elected officials to expand Medicaid with #NoBarriersNoDelays.

Mike Oxford, Kansas ADAPT, explained how Medicaid expansion in Kansas would extend coverage to approximately 52,000 Kansans who are disabled as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but who may not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare without expansion. “Efforts to pit disabled Kansans against the people who would benefit from Medicaid expansion are just plain wrong. We ARE the expansion population, and we want health care for ALL Kansans,” Oxford proclaimed to the assembled crowd.

Heather Matty, disabled advocate from Kansas City, expressed her support for Medicaid expansion, and told how her direct support worker had needed to reduce her working hours to care for a family member, which under the current system lost her subsidy, and increased her monthly health insurance premium to $150.00/month. Heather explained the importance of Medicaid expansion to Kansans with disabilities, “We want the people who help us in the community to have health insurance so they can take care of themselves too.”

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Senator Jim Denning announced a compromise proposal for Medicaid expansion in the days leading up to the 2020 Legislative Session. Advocacy groups, including Topeka Independent Living Resource Center (TILRC) and Kansas ADAPT have been encouraging policymakers to expand Medicaid to ensure health insurance coverage for all Kansans for the past three years. As Oxford pointed out in his comments, TILRC’s efforts to improve benefits and wages for direct support workers, including access to state health insurance dates back to 2008. Although movement on the effort through the Governor’s compromise is encouraging, advocates remain committed to #NoBarriersNoDelays through immediate implementation and no monthly premium expenses for beneficiaries.

To get involved in Medicaid Expansion efforts in Kansas, contact Debbie Wright at dwright@tilrc.org 

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