April Holman, Executive Director, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas
December 22, 2023
Now that 2023 is coming to a close, I thought this was a great opportunity to reflect on where the Alliance has been in 2023 and let you know where we are headed in the new year.
When we were putting together a list of the things we were the most proud of this past year, four areas shined brighter than the rest and they were all made possible because of our individual and organization partners across the state. I’d like to summarize our successes through the lenses of those four areas:
Cooperative Legislative efforts
- The 2023 legislative session was packed with events and initiatives aimed at moving the needle on Medicaid expansion legislation in the Kansas Statehouse.
- We hosted a Facebook live event from the Statehouse before the State of the State address in January, and live-tweeted along with thousands of other Kansans to get the message out: Kansas needs Medicaid expansion now.
- A report from the Kansas Health Institute was released in February demonstrating how critical Medicaid expansion is to the behavioral health community in Kansas, including lowering the rates of children entering the foster care system due to neglect, and reducing rates of recidivism in the criminal justice system.
- A rally at the Statehouse in March brought more than 200 advocates to the Statehouse to make their voices heard to lawmakers: the time is now!
- More than 300 signatures were collected from physicians, physician assistants, retired physicians and medical students in an open letter to Kansas policymakers advocating for expansion. The names and letter were displayed in the Statehouse during the Veto session in April.
Focused community involvement
- We spent the summer building relationships with health-focused organizations and grassroots advocates in various communities around the state.
- Thanks to these relationships with new and existing partners, we were able to have meetings in Hays, Marysville, Great Bend, El Dorado, Salina and Courtland this year.
- We made connections with local governments and helped community members pass several local resolutions to support Medicaid expansion at the city and county levels.
Collaboration with Partners
- As in previous years, the collaboration we had with coalition members and partner organizations was critical to the success of the work done in 2023.
- We worked with a number of navigators, health centers, and other patient-focused advocacy groups to spread the word about the unwinding of Medicaid after the COVID-19 public health emergency ended. As the unwinding continues, we will maintain these relationships and spread the word about the importance of expanding Medicaid to close the coverage gap affecting so many of those who have lost coverage.
- Working with the MORE2 Faith + Democracy Roundtable gave us the opportunity to meet with leaders and communities from a variety of faith traditions across the state. Closing the coverage gap is something that unites many of the faith traditions around the state, and we were continuously uplifted by the opportunities to partner with faith leaders.
Enthusiasm from grassroots advocates
- We couldn’t do our work without the support and enthusiasm from everyday Kansans who have a heart for their friends and neighbors.
- During the 2023 Legislative session, advocates from all over the state participated in our “Steps to Expansion” advocacy campaign. The aim of the campaign was to make it as easy as possible for any Kansan to advocate for Medicaid expansion. Kansans from all over signed the petition and contacted their elected officials to tell them to support expansion.
- Dozens of advocates wrote letters to the editor (LTEs) in support of Medicaid expansion, and those letters ran in newspapers all over the state. These LTEs outlined why each writer supports expansion and asked the Kansas legislature why they refused to talk about it.
- We got to know many new storytellers throughout the year and came together with them in August for a training, where we worked together to strategize and craft stories to share with lawmakers and the media. Most of these storytellers are Kansans living in the coverage gap who leverage their personal experiences to affect policy change for all Kansans.
We are so proud of the work we did together in 2023, and are looking forward to continuing to build the movement for Medicaid expansion in 2024. We would love for each and every one of you to find a place to connect with our advocacy work in the upcoming year. Please reach out to us with any questions or to get plugged in.
We hope you have a great holiday season, and we’ll see you in 2024!