Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers spoke to local leaders Wednesday about the importance of expanding Medicaid in Kansas, especially in rural communities like Junction City.
Rogers heads the newly-created Office of Rural Prosperity, where his main focus is on finding and navigating opportunities in rural communities throughout Kansas. Rogers conducts his work by meeting with farmers, ranchers, business owners, health professionals and other members of rural communities.
During a meeting Wednesday at Geary Community Hospital, Rogers briefly discussed a proposal from Gov. Laura Kelly which was presented earlier this year. Kelly proposed the expansion of Medicaid throughout the state. The proposal was passed by the House on Jan. 29, but according to Rogers, further discussion on any bill in regard to Medicaid expansion was banned from the Senate floor until May 1. Discussion on Kelly’s proposal will resume next week.
According to Rogers, even if the proposal doesn’t pass the Senate, lawmakers will at least debate it.
“We need to give democracy a chance to work,” Rogers said.
Rogers has expressed concerns about rural hospitals throughout the state.
“If you chose to live in a small community, you shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice things like health care,” he said. “Medicaid expansion can throw small hospitals a lifeline for saving the hospital from shutting down. There are a lot of other issues we need to discuss, and Medicaid expansion won’t completely fix hospitals, but it will help. I am very concerned about rural hospitals in this state, and everyone needs to care.”
Numerous health care officials spoke to Rogers about concerns they would have if Medicaid expansion does not occur. Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner Tiffany Naccarato said communities need more access.
“People need more readily available access to health care,” Naccarato said.
Rogers responded to concerns by saying there is bipartisan support on the issue, which shows just how vital Medicaid expansion is.
“This is a nonpartisan issue that affects the future of our state,” Rogers said.