By Denise Cyzman

All Kansans should have equitable access to high-quality health care. Toward that end, the Community Care Network of Kansas serves one of the largest primary care systems serving all Kansans, regardless of who they are, how much money they make, where they live, or if they have health insurance. This network of clinics serve 1 in 9 Kansans, many of whom are underserved and overlooked. In 2019, the clinics provided care to 325,000 patients; 92% had reported income levels at or below 200% FPL; 33% were uninsured; and 28% were Medicaid beneficiaries.

The clinics provide integrated, proactive care for the mind, mouth and body. Their value is greatest when care
includes prevention and reducing health risks; identifies disease early and provides comprehensive treatment; and includes ongoing care management and services to reduce social and economic barriers to health. Yet, this model of care is not equability available to all Kansans. Many patients served by Community Care member clinics experience unacceptable barriers to care solely because they lack health insurance. Patients delay treatment when they do not have insurance and lack financial resources to pay for care. When they do seek care, they require more expensive and complex care; their outcomes are worse. The real-life consequences of being uninsured result in real-life heart-breaking results. Expanding Medicaid will save lives.

Community Care clinics are critical local resources, especially in underserved communities. Because they serve all who come through their doors, the amount of uncompensated care compared to their budgets is staggering; $45 million in 2019. While expanding KanCare would not cover all uncompensated care, we know it would reduce this bill dramatically.

Reducing uncompensated care would allow Community Care clinics to use the increased funding to expand capacity. Whether that would be hiring a new specialist or office staff that would allow more patients to be seen, expanding the scope of whole-person services offered at the clinic, or simply reinvesting in retention efforts in competitive markets, being paid for services already provided would give the clinic options currently unavailable. Having the correct capacity would give clinics the opportunity to increase their focus on local initiatives. Increasing access to medications and services for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) conditions could be pursued while ensuring healthy babies are born and high blood pressure is controlled. Community Care clinics pursue improved personal and population health. Increased revenue allows that to take place more efficiently.

It is time to give Kansans the health care they need and deserve. It is time to expand Medicaid in Kansas.

Denise Cyzman is the CEO of Community Care Network of Kansas