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Coalition Stepping Up Push For Medicaid Expansion

Jim McLean
Heartland Health Monitor
Kristin Brighton, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce board chair, speaks Thursday at a media conference in Manhattan.

A coalition of Kansas health care providers, business organizations and local governments is stepping up its lobbying campaign for Medicaid expansion.

Just this week the coalition has staged media conferences in Wichita and Manhattan to push for the expansion of KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

In Manhattan, business leaders made the economic case for expansion. Kristin Brighton chairs the board of the area chamber of commerce.

“Not expanding Medicaid is stunting our state and local economies," says Kristin Brighton, board chair for the area chamber of commerce. "In just the Via Christi health system alone nearly 650 jobs have been lost since June of 2012, which equals $52 million in lost wages.”

Via Christi operates hospitals in Manhattan, Wichita and Pittsburg.

The Kansas Hospital Association estimates the state has lost nearly $1.5 billion in federal Medicaid funds over the past three years.

Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders have blocked expansion, saying they don’t trust the federal government to cover all but 10 percent of the costs of expansion, as the health reform law requires.