Passage of Medicaid Expansion is a Major Win for Women in Kansas
Only a few days after the House failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Kansas state legislature has voted to expand Medicaid under the ACA. Medicaid expansion was targeted in the failed ACA Repeal Bill for large cuts and changes, despite bipartisan support of the provision.
Passage of Medicaid expansion in Kansas’s overwhelmingly Republican-led legislature signals that state politicians have received the message that the ACA is here to stay, and that they rightly recognize how important Medicaid expansion is for the health and wellbeing of Kansans. Unfortunately, Kansas’s Governor has signaled he may not be as ready as the legislature to move on from the failed attacks on the ACA and finally expand coverage for his constituents.
Medicaid Expansion is a Win-Win for Kansans
Expansion in Kansas would extend Medicaid health insurance coverage to about 150,000 Kansans who currently do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private coverage in order to access the care they need to get and stay healthy. Under Medicaid expansion, those individuals will be able to receive critical health care coverage for services such as doctor visits, hospitalizations, and prescriptions. Some of the Kansas lawmakers supported the bill because it will also help keep local hospitals open and able to serve patients. All of this would be accomplished without straining the state’s budget.
Medicaid Expansion is Particularly Important for Women in Kansas
Nationally, Medicaid expansion has been immensely important for women, who rely more heavily on Medicaid coverage than men. States that have expanded Medicaid have seen large increases in Medicaid enrollment – between 2013 and 2015, over 3 million women in Medicaid expansion states gained health insurance coverage either through traditional Medicaid or through the expansion. In contrast, in Kansas, there was no significant gain in women’s Medicaid coverage rates during that same period.
Since Kansas has not expanded eligibility for Medicaid family planning services, a large population of individuals in Kansas – larger than in most states – currently lacks insurance coverage of birth control and other family planning services such as STI testing and treatment. If Kansas’s Governor signs this Medicaid expansion bill, tens of thousands of women in Kansas will gain access to affordable birth control, which is directly linked with women’s health and economic security.
The Bill Still Needs the Governor’s Support
Kansas’s Governor, Sam Brownback, will have 10 days to sign or veto the bill once he receives it. Despite the positive impact Medicaid expansion would have for residents of his state, Gov. Brownback has stated that he is against expansion, although he has not said definitively whether he will veto the bill.
One thing is clear: Medicaid expansion will help tens of thousands of individuals and families in Kansas – with particularly positive impacts for women – just as it has in the 32 states that have already expanded Medicaid. Gov. Brownback will have a lot of explaining to do if he overrides the legislature’s acknowledgement of that fact.