Kansas Child Care Leaders Support Medicaid Expansion During Kansas Legislature's Hearings: Here's What They're Saying

Government and Politics

April 15, 2024

From: Kansas Governor Laura Kelly

Topeka, KS - Last month, Governor Laura Kelly’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion proposal received support from child care and family advocates across the state during the Kansas Legislature’s Medicaid expansion hearings. Their testimony was submitted for hearings in the House Health and Human Services Committee and a joint session of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Expanding Medicaid would allow an additional 150,000 Kansans, including currently uninsured children, access to health care coverage. As more parents gain coverage, that increases the likelihood that children receive the regular check-ups and preventive care required for healthy development.

Here’s what they’re saying:

“We hear stories every day from families struggling to make ends meet who cite medical debt as a reason they have been driven into poverty. We also hear stories of families unable to access needed care. The inability to access needed health care means the parent is less likely to be at work regularly and to struggle to meet the basic needs of their families. This impacts the ability of employers to have a stable, healthy, and engaged workforce.”
- Secretary Laura Howard, Kansas
 Department for Children and Families

“Healthy Kansas kids and families are critical to our state’s future. Their health depends on regular access to quality care, including wellness visits, screenings, vaccinations, mental health resources, and dental checkups. A lack of health care, especially in childhood, leads to chronic conditions, shorter life expectancy, increased lifetime medical costs, and sicker families. [Medicaid] expansion helps them – and their families.”
- Heather Braum, Health Policy Advisor, Kansas Action for Children

“Access to education and health care are quality of life issues for rural Kansans. If a rural hospital closes, it starts a domino effect of challenges that also negatively impacts public schools. The passage of SB 355 would strengthen and sustain the rural health care system and help ensure rural Kansans get the health care they need while giving a boost to their economies and their public-school systems.”
- Timothy Graham, Director of Government Relations & Legislative Affairs, Kansas National Education Association

“Expanding Medicaid in Kansas would extend essential health care coverage to thousands of low-income individuals, including pregnant women and new mothers who currently lack access to comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care. Access to Medicaid would enable these individuals to receive timely screenings, prenatal visits, and necessary interventions to support healthy pregnancies and positive birth outcomes.
- Sharla Smith, CEO and Founder, Kansas Birth Equity Network

Rural hospitals are 6 times more likely to close in non-expansion states like Kansas. The United States already has a shortage of pediatric hospital beds. Although Kansas has ready access to pediatric hospital beds, we have witnessed when children are unable to access these beds, especially during surges of respiratory illness, like RSV, influenza, and COVID. Medicaid expansion helps Kansas kids, and adults, have critical access to vital rural hospitals.
-Dr. Dena Hubbard and Dr. Andrew Donaldson, Kansas Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics

Among the approximately 150,000 Kansans who stand to gain from Medicaid expansion are child care providers, who play a crucial role in nurturing our youngest citizens. Unfortunately, many of these providers lack affordable access to health care, making it challenging for them to prioritize their own well-being. By ensuring access to health insurance, it could encourage more individuals to pursue careers in child care, thereby addressing the growing demand for these services.”
- Tanya Koehn, Interim Executive Director, Child Care Aware of Kansas

As child welfare providers, we work daily with children and families who are part of Kansas’ most vulnerable populations. Access to quality health care is important to supporting those families. Many are working in preventive ways to keep their children safely in their homes, so there is no need to enter the foster care system. While children who do have to enter foster care are eligible for Medicaid services, many of the families we support are not and, therefore, are in need of affordable, quality health care. Due to current statute, many families are not eligible in Kansas.”
- Rachel Marsh, CEO, Children’s Alliance of Kansas

“My children have been on a form of Medicaid for most of their lives. It’s what we’ve used for all of their doctor visits, all of their hospital stays, all of their dental appointments, all of their medications, all of their therapy, all of their case managers, and so on. Me and my wife do not make enough money to be able to afford real health insurance; I can barely afford insurance for me through my job. We let our kids’ insurance through Medicaid lapse once, and it decimated our finances. Please pass SB 355 favorably. I cannot think of anything that will improve the lives of more Kansans with one stroke of the pen.”
- Johnathan Smith, Kansan

Testimony for the House hearings can be found here and for the Senate informational hearing can be found here.