Kansas Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers visited McPherson Hospital on Monday as part of a tour of communities and hospitals throughout the state. The governor and lieutenant governor are canvassing the state separately to promote the expansion of KanCare, the program through which the State of Kansas administers Medicaid.
Before touring the hospital and new medical office building, Rogers sat down with hospital and community representatives to discuss the importance of the budget-neutral Medicaid expansion and its potential impact to the area.
It is estimated that expanding KanCare would make it possible for approximately 150,000 low-income Kansans to be insured. McPherson County alone would see an estimated 565 uninsured residents gain health coverage.
According to Rogers and other sources, 36 states and the District of Columbia have chosen to expand Medicaid and those states are seeing numerous benefits to health care for the uninsured, but also from a financial perspective for the states. Rogers says that expanding KanCare would create more jobs, boost local economies, and allow federal tax dollars to come back to the state rather than go to Washington. It is estimated that McPherson County would receive more than $3.7 million in new annual health care spending that will create economic impact and improve health.
Rogers said that one of the arguments against the expansion is that it would only benefit big hospitals.
“Every hospital in the state would be impacted by the expansion. Every one,” Cindy Samuelson, a vice president with the Kansas Hospital said.
It is estimated that McPherson Hospital would have an additional $550,000 in revenue annually.
“A half a million dollars to a small hospital is a big relief that may look small in terms of the whole numbers, but those little pieces are what keeps us going,” McPherson Mayor Tom Brown said, after commenting on the importance of health care to a community as a whole.
Another argument against the expansion discussed was that it encourages people to not work. Hospital representatives say that most of the people seen that are uninsured have jobs. They just don’t have access to insurance because they work for a small business or have a low-wage job. And even if they are offered insurance, it’s such a large percentage of their pay that they can’t afford it.
“Even those who may not be working but are dealing with a behavioral disorder or other issue and can’t work because of their condition, if they got medicine or treatment, they might be able to give back to the community,” Rogers added.
Rogers said that the House and Senate are already composed of people who have already supported expansion in terms of it passing. It’s the leadership that is keeping it from progressing forward.
“It’s important for people to contact their legislators and encourage them to push for Medicaid expansion,” Rogers said. “Even if your legislator is against it, the citizens of Kansas deserve a debate.”
Terri Gehring, McPherson Hospital president and CEO said, “We are grateful that Lieutenant Governor Rogers took the time to come to McPherson and share his perspective on this important issue. We appreciate his support of access to quality health care in Kansas communities.”