It is time for a renewed conversation about KanCare expansion. This year is clearly the most significant progress we have seen on expansion to date. Finally, collaboration efforts led by the state’s Republicans and Democrats broke some ice. This year we have the opportunity to pass legislation that is a true compromise. It’s legislation that will return significant federal tax dollars back to Kansas – creating jobs, boosting our economy, protecting hospitals and improving the health of Kansans.

Last year, KanCare expansion legislation passed the Kansas House of Representatives. This January, Republicans and Democrats got together and introduced a Kansas solution to expand KanCare in the Kansas Senate. It includes several innovative solutions, such as a pathways to work program, a premium assistance program, and a rural hospital transformation program. This legislation incorporates personal responsibility through monthly premiums. It includes a 1332 waiver reinsurance program that intends to reduce health insurance premiums for the middle class on the health insurance marketplace.

This bi-partisan legislation will assist approximately 130,000 Kansans who need access to affordable health care coverage, many of whom earn too much to qualify for KanCare but too little to be eligible to receive financial assistance to purchase private insurance in the marketplace. Without regular care, the uninsured often wait until their health concerns reach the point of needing emergency care, which comes at a higher cost to all of us. These are hardworking people who are stuck with few options for affordable health coverage.

Expanding KanCare increases access to preventive care leading to the right care, in the right amount, in the right setting, at the right time. It also will be a good support to Newton Medical Center and all other hospitals in the state.

The recent legislative efforts are perhaps the only way KanCare expansion will be passed. We have a split opinion about Medicaid Expansion among our locally-elected state officials. I ask you to weigh the evidence and then contact Rep. Owens, Rep. Hodge, and Sen. McGinn to ask for their support.

— Vallerie L. Gleason is the President and CEO of Newton Medical Center