Medicaid expansion rally heats up second day of session

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas People’s Agenda Coalition hosted a rally on Tuesday in support of a “clean” Medicaid expansion bill for Kansas.

The coalition decided to focus on this topic after recent events of a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan being introduced, putting the state one step closer to implementation.

“A lot of working, low-income, low-wage folks… don’t have access to healthcare, their employer doesn’t provide it, and they don’t make enough to buy it off of the exchanges. But they need it,” said Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan, who spoke at the rally.

The rally occurred on the second day of the Legislative session, in hopes it would catch lawmakers’ attention. Oglesby-Dunegan said they hope passing the bill early in the session will give room for more pressing issues to be discussed.

The coalition supports a “clean” Medicaid expansion billing, meaning it possesses no barriers or delays. The expansion plan introduced by Gov. Laura Kelly and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning does not call for these, although it does have premiums.

Oglesby-Dunegan said a completely clean bill would not have premiums.

Rev. Letiah Fraser also spoke at the rally, telling her story of how she had to stay at a job that provided health insurance due to her disability, instead of fulfilling her dream of becoming a pastor.

Fraser said she saved money from her job to be able to become a pastor, and because of this was denied from government-assisted healthcare programs such as Medicaid because she was told she had too much money.

“[I was] between a rock and a hard place of having money to pay for rent and yet not having access to healthcare, which is important for every Kansan, but also important because of my disability to be seen,” Fraser said.

Currently, Fraser does not have health insurance. She believes it is her responsibility to fight for healthcare for all, especially because she’s directly affected.

Ogelsby-Dunegan said it’s important to also look at the gaps people can fall into when they do not qualify for Medicaid but also do not have enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

She said that many low-income, low-wage people become so used to not having health insurance that they don’t realize they should have it.

The coalition encouraged attendees to visit their legislators to voice their concerns while at the Capitol.

“This house is your house,” Ogelsby-Dunegan told the crowd.

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