It’s Time for Kansas to Pass Medicaid Expansion

January 24, 2024

The Kansas Legislature is back in session. And as lawmakers convene in Topeka, many Kansans are left asking the same question. Will this be the year that Kansas finally adopts Medicaid Expansion?

Kansas is quickly falling behind. Kansas is now one of just 10 states that hasn’t adopted Medicaid Expansion. All of our neighboring states have expanded Medicaid. Yet despite Kansans overwhelmingly supporting Medicaid Expansion, it continues to stall out in Topeka year after year.  

Medicaid Expansion would have a significant impact on families here in Wyandotte County and beyond – including improving behavioral health outcomes. Currently Kansas ranks last in the country in mental health, according to a 2023 report from Mental Health America (MHA) that looked at prevalence of mental illness and access to care across the country. What were the driving factors behind Kansas’ low ranking? High rates of youth experiencing Substance Use Disorders (SUD) in the past year, adults with any mental illness and adults with serious thoughts of suicide. Wyandotte County currently has the highest volume of calls to the suicide lifeline – more than Sedgwick and Johnson counties combined. Kansans deserve better. 

So how do we go about improving mental health outcomes? It starts with access to care. That same MHA report found that nearly 18 percent of Kansas adults with any mental illness were uninsured. Far too many people don’t seek treatment because they think they can’t afford care and/or the medication they need. Medicaid Expansion would make 150,000 additional Kansans eligible for health insurance, allowing them to feel that access to behavioral health treatment and medication is within reach.

To get Medicaid Expansion passed in Kansas, we have to expose and move path the myths surrounding it. One of the most common myths I hear surrounding Medicaid Expansion is that it would discourage people from working, when quite the opposite is true. More than half of adults under age 65 with Medicaid are working either full or part-time. 

Expanding Medicaid would greatly improve health outcomes for families across the state and create healthier communities for decades to come. It’s time for Kansas to pass Medicaid Expansion.