Letter to the Editor 3-6-20
To the editor:
As a health care provider, small business owner and a former hospital board member, I understand how important reliable health care is to our community and to our local economy. However, we are facing a real challenge to maintaining health care in rural communities like ours because too many of rural residents are uninsured.
Nearly 150,000 hardworking Kansans currently fall into a health coverage gap. They earn too much to qualify for KanCare, the Kansas Medicaid program, but too little to be eligible for financial help to buy private insurance. The reality is the uninsured rate in rural Kansas is higher than other parts of the state.
To address the challenge, we need to expand KanCare.
Without expanding KanCare, Kansans living in rural communities who are uninsured will go without routine health care. Unable to pay for regular care, they rely on costly care in hospital emergency rooms.
In turn hospitals are forced to deliver care to patients with little ability to pay, saddling them with a high-level of care they are not compensated to provide. As a result, 84% of Kansas hospitals are operating at a loss. That is not sustainable for our hospitals. It also threatens our communities and the health of rural Kansans.
Expanding KanCare would reduce the uninsured population by half, meaning Kansans would have the ability to get routine and preventive care in our community. It also means that hospitals and health care providers would get paid for delivering services, reducing their financial vulnerability. In addition to protecting hospitals, it would also bring new health spending and money into our community, which would ripple through the local economic, creating jobs.
Expanding KanCare is win for patients. It is also critical to protecting our hospitals and maintaining services in our community. It’s time to expand KanCare.
Monte Wentz, O.D.