Kansas Leaves Many Of Its Poorest Uninsured
KSAL Staff - August 7, 2013 7:48 am
The Kansas Senate has approved regulations for counselors who help consumers navigate an online insurance marketplace created by the federal health care overhaul strongly opposed by most Republican state officials.
Kansas is leaving some of its poorest citizens uninsured.
Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says the Affordable Care Act will make it possible—for the first time—for all Americans to have access to health care. But in reality, thousands of Kansans will be left out.
That’s because the tax credits designed to help low-income families don’t apply to anyone who earns less than about $23-thousand a year for a family of four. Congress intended for anyone poorer than that to be covered by Medicaid.
But Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas lawmakers chose not to expand the eligibility guidelines. That means a family of four will still be considered too wealthy for Medicaid if their income is $6,000 a year.
Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger predicts they’ll have a hard time understanding why they can’t get Medicaid or the tax credits.
“We’re very concerned about that,” Praeger said. “The message that they’re too poor to qualify is not one they’re going to understand.
“They’re going to say, ‘What do you mean I’m too Poor? You mean I make too much money?’ No, you’re too poor, because if you don’t make at least 100 per cent of the federal poverty level you’re not eligible because Kansas didn’t do the Medicaid expansion.”
Praeger says she’s seen estimates that between 90-thousand and 170-thousand Kansans will fall into that “too poor to qualify” category—and thus fall through the cracks.
Story by Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio