El Centro provides Health Navigation Services to assist individuals in accessing needed health care. This work is often frustrating, as El Centro staff encounter considerable gaps in the health care system that complicate health promotion and disease management efforts. We believe that expanding eligibility for Medicaid/KanCare, would reduce the extent of unmet need in the health care system and, therefore, improve the health status of low-income and otherwise disadvantaged Kansans. We recognize, still, an ongoing need for safety net health care providers, knitted together to provide access to medical homes for all, and believe that Medicaid expansion would complement their critical role.
Erica Andrade, El Centro’s Health Navigation Manager, provides an personal narrative of the road blocks she encounters while assisting a client seeking health coverage:
During open enrollment season of the Health Marketplace, the thing I dread the most is getting that ineligibility notice based on the lack of Medicaid expansion in the state of Kansas. That means that I then have to explain to a struggling working family that they do not qualify for assistance because their family income is too low to allow them to qualify for an Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC), but that in turn according to the state of Kansas they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The reply from the client is always the same, “so I’m too poor to be required to have insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the state thinks I make too much to help me with Medicaid… what am I supposed to do now?”
Andrade continues by saying, “The bottom line is that Medicaid expansion would help the most vulnerable members of our communities; the working poor and the single adult students. Access to medical care is limited and community clinics, though a great resource, cannot accommodate all the specialty needs of the uninsured like dialysis and cancer care. Medicaid expansion is the only way to ensure that a larger part of our community has access to healthcare coverage and quality, affordable health care services.”