KanCare Expansion: Why It Matters for Older Kansans

By Maren Turner

In Kansas, most adults without children are completely ineligible for Medicaid health coverage — no matter how low their income. KanCare (Medicaid) Expansion will both expand access to health care for people who desperately need it and it will save the state money. This issue is particularly important to AARP on behalf of Kansans who are 50 and older, who are too young to be covered by Medicare and do not have access to affordable health care. According to research from the Urban Institute, full expansion of KanCare would provide health coverage for an estimated 21,271 uninsured Kansans aged 50-64.

Currently, tens of thousands of hard-working Kansans who lost their jobs due to Covid-19 or are struggling in jobs without health coverage are denied access to affordable health care. Expanding KanCare will provide coverage for our friends and neighbors who’ve paid into the system throughout their working lives but are now struggling to make ends meet.

Older adults are particularly vulnerable to declining health if they do not have adequate health coverage. Family caregivers are contributing care hours at great cost to themselves. Many family caregivers have left the workforce to care for a loved one and need health insurance themselves. Expansion will give people without health insurance access to preventive care that can save lives and ease dangerous and expensive emergency room overcrowding that hurts all of us. Keep in mind that when Kansans without health coverage need emergency room and other hospital care, their bills are unaffordable. When bills are unpaid, hospitals must charge more to cover their losses, and insurance premiums increase – for all of us.

Expansion means that these individuals, those who are the most vulnerable and in most need of care, would have health coverage and the state would be able to pay for that coverage through an increased federal funding match. KanCare expansion allows Kansas to get $9 back in federal funding for every $1 spent by the state. By triggering this federal match, we can bring home hundreds of millions of dollars every year from Washington D.C. — taxes that we’ve already paid that will return to Kansas. This is money that 38 other states already get but we’ve been losing out on for years. KanCare expansion will boost the Kansas economy, create jobs and keep rural hospitals open.

Expanding KanCare provides access to affordable care, supports caregivers, and saves lives and money. It will give thousands of hard-working Kansans the opportunity to stay healthy and build financial security.

Maren Turner is Kansas state director for AARP