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Rep. Davids announces new approach to Medicaid expansion in Kansas

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Posted at 8:30 AM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 09:30:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rep. Sharice Davids hopes to help usher in Medicaid expansion for Kansas through a two-fold approach announced Wednesday amid ongoing budget reconciliation talks.

Davids, a Democrat from Kansas who represents Johnson County, sent a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to keep enhanced incentives for Medicaid expansion in place for the 12 holdout states and create a federal plan to expand Medicaid in those states.

Kansas is one of 12 states, predominantly clustered in the South, that have yet to expand Medicaid under the terms of the Affordable Care Act.

As a result, Davids said the state is leaving federal dollars that could be used to improve health care in Kansas on the table while up to 165,000 Kansas residents go without affordable health care coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She backed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, which increased the federal Medicaid reimbursement for states that choose to expand Medicaid.

Missouri only passed Medicaid expansion in 2020 after an initiative petition put the issue on the ballot, though Republican lawmakers fought throughout the legislative session and later in court to prevent its implementation.

The American Rescue Plan, which passed in March, bumped up the federal reimbursement for the next two years for any state that moves forward with expansion.

Davids hopes to extend that benefit and also expand the federal medical insurance to include all individuals and families with incomes less than 138% of the federal poverty level — roughly $17,775 for an individual or $36,570 for a family of four.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates there are approximately 4 million U.S. residents who would be eligible for Medicaid if expansion was enacted in the 12 holdout states.

“It is unacceptable that people are suffering solely because partisan actors have chosen repeatedly to leave money on the table at the expense of their constituents’ health and their state’s economy,” Davids wrote in a statement. “It is urgent that we use every tool at our disposal to ensure that all Americans can access affordable health care, regardless of where they live.”

Research indicates that Medicaid expansion has saved lives, boosted state revenue for health care, reduced medical debt, created new jobs and bolstered the economy in enacting states.

Disproportionately, people of color are affected by a lack of access to affordable health care, which Medicaid expansion would help address.

Missouri voters passed Medicaid expansion last year and it was supposed to take effect July 1, 2021, but it took a ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court to compel the state to honor the law.

Despite the ruling, Missouri has yet to begin signing up new enrollees for its Medicaid program, Missouri HealthNet.