Lieutenant Governor Hosts Salina Roundtable

Kansas Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland was in Salina Wednesday, hosting a “Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy” Tour roundtable focused on how expanding Medicaid would address health care workforce shortages.

According to the Governor’s Office, this is the fifth stop on the statewide tour, which launched in Winfield last month and has included visits to Garden City, Pittsburg, and Overland Park.

“Right now, Kansas is standing by as our doctors, nurses, and hospital staff leave for higher pay in neighboring states and exacerbate our healthcare workforce shortage,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “If we want to continue our unprecedented economic development success, we must expand Medicaid to create a more robust health care system that attracts both businesses and workers.””

“Expanding Medicaid is the most logical solution to address workforce shortages, grow our economy, and support Kansas health care workers and hospitals, especially in rural areas,” said Representative Susan Concannon, a Salina Republican. “While workers move to our neighboring states that have already expanded Medicaid, Kansas continues to forfeit billions of our own taxpayer dollars that could be used to support hospitals and staff and provide better benefits here at home. We must work across the aisle to get this done for Kansans in the next legislative session.”

“As Executive Director of a health care organization with more than 80 members across the state, I’m deeply concerned about rural hospital closures, and the impact it has not only on access to care, but also the economy of these communities.,” said Jodi Schmidt, Executive Director of the Care Collaborative at The University of Kansas Health System. “Rural hospitals provide good paying jobs, themselves, and are important to local employers who need care for their own workforce. As a result, Medicaid expansion is not just a health care issue, but an economic one as well.”

Here’s how expanding Medicaid would address workforce shortages:

  • 2023 Kansas Hospital Association data show a 16% vacancy rate in all surveyed hospital-based positions and a 21% vacancy rate among staff nurses (R.N.s)
  • Registered nurses in Kansas are paid a median of $31.95/hr – less than nurses in Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Colorado (all expansion states).
  • 8 Kansas hospitals have closed since the state has had the option to expand Medicaid – hurting the state’s ability to retain and recruit healthcare workers.

Kansans can call their state legislators and ask them to expand Medicaid at 800-432-3924.

Roundtable participants included: 

  • Tyler Hughes, Dean, University of Kansas School of Medicine—Salina Campus
  • Robert Moser, Medical Director, University of Kansas School of Medicine—Salina Campus
  • Representative Susan Concannon, House District 107
  • Lisa Larson, Dean, University of Kansas School of Nursing—Salina Campus
  • Rob Freelove, Chief Medical Officer, Salina Regional Health Center
  • Travis Young, Member of the Board of Directors, Salina Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Craig Concannon, Chair of the Board of American College of Physicians

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