The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop, but not as fast as those in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs.
New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the uninsured rate in Kansas dropped to 8.7 percent in 2016 from 9.1 percent the year before. That is not a statistically significant change.
Approximately 249,000 Kansans lacked health coverage in 2016, down from about 261,000 the previous year.
The uninsured rate in Missouri declined to 8.9 percent from 9.8 percent the previous year.
Kansas and Missouri are among 19 states that have thus far rejected expansion.
The average uninsured rate in the 31 states that have extended Medicaid eligibility to more low-income adults is 6.5 percent, according to the Census Bureau data. The average rate in non-expansion states is nearly double that at 11.7 percent.
Massachusetts, an expansion state, has the lowest uninsured rate at 2.5 percent while Texas, a non-expansion state, has the highest rate at 16.6 percent.
The 2017 Kansas Legislature passed a Medicaid expansion plan but failed to override Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto.
Expansion supporters are gearing up for another attempt when the 2018 session convenes in January, said David Jordan, executive director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, a nonprofit lobbying group funded by several regional health foundations.
“As long as we have the opportunity to expand KanCare, we will continue to fight to do so,” Jordan said, referring to Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program.
If congressional Republicans had succeeded in repealing Obamacare, they would have phased out the enhanced federal funding that prompted many states to expand their Medicaid programs. But with the health reform law still on the books, expansion remains an option for Kansas and other states where support for it is growing.
Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio and KMUW covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.