This morning the Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee is holding a hearing on KanCare expansion. As part of the effort to promote expansion I was given the opportunity to submit a written testimony. In light of the great need and the impact expansion would have on families in Kansas, I thought I would share that testimony here:
February 14, 2018
Senate Public Health and Welfare
I am writing today to share my perspective on the consideration of expanding Medicaid in Kansas. As the CEO of Vibrant Health – Wyandotte Neighborhood Clinics, I see every day the opportunity lost by the failure to expand coverage for residents of Kansas. We operate three safety net clinics in Wyandotte County, providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to more than 9,000 patients each year. We know the need for our services is far greater than our current capacity and we know when people regularly access primary care, it improves the health of the entire family.
There are multiple layers to the impact of expansion on the community and the families we work with. First, more adults would access care. We currently hear from parents bringing their children to any of our pediatric practices that they don’t access care themselves. As we talk to parents about the need for their own health care, we know they make this choice because of the lack of insurance and fear of the cost.
As a Federally Qualified Health Center Look Alike, we operate with a sliding fee scale for uninsured patients. The vast majority of our uninsured patients pay $10 per visit to Vibrant Health. This helps families for sure, but there is tremendous fear of how to pay for medication or specialty care, in the case of something more significant.
Second, Medicaid expansion is a job creator. We employ more than fifty people throughout our clinics and many of our front line staff grew up in Wyandotte County and live in neighborhoods near our clinics. Expansion of Medicaid immediately increases the demand for our services and provides the resources for us to respond to that demand by hiring more staff.
This issue has been a missed opportunity for several years now. Expanding coverage for families in Kansas can and will have an immediate impact to the positive, improving people’s lives and in multiple ways, reaching a hand out to lift people up.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony,
Patrick Sallee is the CEO of Vibrant Health. Patrick has spent his career in the non-profit world because it allows him to pursue the issues he’s passionate about: providing opportunities for children, helping others, fighting for the underrepresented, and building communities. Patrick spends his spare time with his wife Chesney and twin daughters Avery and Makenna. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org