OPINION

LETTER: Medicaid expansion

Nancy Bauder/Leavenworth

To the editor:

When I retired and started my art business a few years ago, I realized that I could not afford the $600-$800 per month for health insurance premiums. When the Affordable Care Act came around and my business struggled to bring in income, I applied for insurance coverage, but did not qualify that first year. I made too much for Medicaid and too little for the ACA (less than $12,500). I would have been better off if I had not even worked that year. The second year, I made approximately $20,000 which qualified me for lower health care payments.   

I have worked in health care most of my life. I served on the board of Cushing Hospital the past five years prior to closing. I can tell you it was not COVID-19 that closed the hospital, but the fact that we had to provide so much free care, something that under federal law we are required to do. Medicaid expansion significantly would reduce the uncompensated care costs currently absorbed by hospitals. 

It is disheartening to know that my federal tax dollars are going to the surrounding states, and St. Luke’s and others are expanding services in Missouri while Kansas is left behind. 

Community hospitals have closed in Great Bend, Horton, Fort Scott, Independence, Oswego, Wellington, Overland Park and our own Cushing Memorial Hospital in Leavenworth. Medicaid expansion is critically needed in Kansas, and I believe that the majority of us support it.