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Nov. 25, 2013
TOPEKA The Kansas Hospital Association recently completed an advertising campaign aimed at building support for expanding state’s Medicaid program.
“We’re just wanting to raise the public’s awareness about there being a lot of people who would benefit from expanding Medicaid,” said Cindy Samuelson, a KHA spokesperson.
The association, which represents all 128 hospitals in Kansas, sponsored radio and television commercials in the Wichita and Kansas City markets from Nov. 11 through Nov. 22.
Kansas is one of 24 states that have chosen not to expand their Medicaid programs to include adults whose incomes are below 138 percent of the federal poverty line.
Currently, low-income children, pregnant women and the elderly are eligible for Medicaid. Childless adults are not.
A parent is eligible if his or her income is less than 32 percent of poverty line, about $630 a month for a thee-person household.
Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican majorities in both legislative chambers have shelved the state’s Medicaid-expansion debate, citing doubts that the federal government will be able to keep its promise to cover most of the costs associated with the expansion.
In the KHA commercials, Kelly Brown, a single mother who lives in Lawrence, shares that even though she works six days a week, she cannot afford health insurance. Her income makes her ineligible for Medicaid.
“What I make (wages) is pretty much living paycheck to paycheck, just trying to get the things me and my daughter need to get by,” Brown said.
Her daughter, she says, is covered by Medicaid.
“If I end up with a serious illness," Brown says, "then I’m usually ending up in the hospital just to figure out what’s wrong and get it taken care of as quickly as possible, so, again, I can get back to work to raise my daughter because I’m doing it on my own.”
The commercials have been posted below and on KHA’s website.
Samuelson said two additional videos are in the works. “We’ll be putting them on the website as well,” she said.
Hospital officials throughout the state have been meeting with legislators to “talk about what expansion means locally to each of them,” Samuelson said.
Sean Gatewood, interim director with the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition, an advocacy group for the state’s uninsured and underinsured, welcomed the hospital association’s campaign.
“It’s great to have them on board,” Gatewood said.
“There are two fundamental things that communities in rural settings are built around: schools and hospitals,” he said. “So the hospitals’ voice really matters. We’re excited to have them.”
The hospital association is not a “signed up” member of the consumer coalition, Gatewood said.
Regan Cussimanio, director of government relations for the Kansas Cancer Action Network, said the group also is backing Medicaid expansion.
“Our position is that all cancer patients should have access to care and treatment,” said Cussimanio, who represents the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society. “That includes those people who aren’t eligible for Medicaid now but would be with expansion.
"The way it is now, there are a lot of treatments that just aren’t available to patients who don’t have insurance or who can’t pay for it,” she said.
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