TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A continuous effort to expand KanCare coverage garnished an outpouring of support at a Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee hearing on Wednesday morning.
Dozens of supporters in favor of Senate Bill 38, which proposes to expand coverage to an estimated 150,000 Kansans, turned out to make their voices heard.
Amy Houston, a business owner from Mulvane, Kan. says she found herself without coverage after a cancer diagnosis in 2008.
“I’m the mother of four children, I’m on the school board in my community and I feel like I’m worthless because I can’t get health insurance,” Mulvane said.
Mulvane said she racked up extreme debt when she was forced to pay for her treatments on a credit card, and later defaulted to collections agencies.
“You feel like you’re not a productive member of society,'” Mulvane said.
Under Senate Bill 38, many low wage workers under 65 years of age and those working an estimated 20 hours a week could be eligible for coverage.
“Expanding Medicaid is expanding an entitlement program,” James Franko of the Koch funded Kansas Policy Institute said. “The thing we should be focused on as a state is having a safety net for the people who truly need it.”
Franko and those opposing the bill, worry it could lead to a tax increase.
“The more we spend in government, the more we tax,” Franko said. “It’s harder for people to go out and provide for their family.”
The KPI believes the estimated number of people needing coverage could be higher, and more expensive, than currently projected. Franko also cited concerns that expanding KanCare could lead to an increase in non-emergency related hospital visits.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Jeff Andersen estimates the proposal could cost approximately $22 million per year and a federal match is not necessarily guaranteed.
Those in favor of the bill, cite pharmaceutical rebates and other patients savings will cover the cost of the expansion long term.
Andersen notes Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer will be traveling to Washington, D.C. later this month to meet with officials on the best way to help Kansans with health care.
The bill must be passed out of committee before it can reach the Senate floor for a vote.