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Via Christi advocacy

Via Christi advocates for healthcare policies locally, statewide and nationally that open healthcare to everyone. Working with our colleagues at other Ascension Health ministries, we focus our efforts on transforming healthcare for all and providing those who are struggling with access to excellent healthcare.

Via Christi working toward expanded healthcare coverage for the uninsured

Via Christi is among a wide coalition of healthcare and business organizations that are working toward expanding healthcare coverage for Kansans that are uninsured.

Approximately 138,000 Kansans — more than half of whom are working — fall in an insurance coverage gap. They earn too much money to qualify for the current KanCare program but also don’t qualify for federal subsidies to make purchasing coverage more affordable on the state health insurance exchanges created as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Via Christi and a coalition of other community stakeholders have hosted a pair of educational forums — one in November 2015, the other in January 2016 — to start a discussion among policymakers and stakeholders about how to find a plan to expand KanCare that is rooted in Kansas values.

Estimates gathered by the coalition have shown that not only could KanCare be expanded without hurting the state's general fund, the expansion could greatly benefit the Kansas budget through federal revenue, state cost savings and job creation.

Healthcare leaders in Indiana have been involved in these discussions because of their success in expanding the Healthy Indiana Plan, their state's version of KanCare, in a similar political climate as Kansas. In early 2015, Indiana expanded the Healthy Indiana Plan to benefit about 350,000 low-income Hoosiers who previously had gone without insurance. Via Christi in Kansas is working closely with colleagues at St. Vincent Health in Indiana to build on their success. Via Christi and St. Vincent are both ministries of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit healthcare system.

“Kansas has failed to meet the needs of about 160,000 Kansans who have no way to pay for the care they need and has turned away more than $785 million in federal funding to date,” says Jeff Korsmo, Via Christi CEO and Kansas Ministry Market Leader for Ascension. “At the same time, a growing number of hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to remain financially viable so that they can continue to meet the healthcare needs of the communities they serve.

“That’s why we’ve come together to form a broad coalition of health organizations committed to finding a way to expand KanCare coverage in a manner that is tailored to meet our state’s needs."

Other statewide sponsors of these events include the Kansas Health Foundation, Kansas Hospital Association, Sunflower Foundation, Saint Luke’s Health System, University of Kansas Hospital, Wesley Medical Center, Medical Society of Sedgwick County, Kansas Association of the Medically Underserved, Kansas Medical Society, Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and REACH Healthcare Foundation.

Ascension has made Medicaid expansion a priority, helping to deliver on its mission to provide compassionate, personalized care to all. Medicaid has not yet expanded coverage in many states with Ascension sites of care — Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin — states that have some of the highest rates of people who are uninsured and who are struggling most.

“We set out to have a respectful dialogue, and that’s what happened today,” Korsmo says. “There was pretty solid agreement about the goal of improving access to care. I was also really pleased that everybody agreed just saying no to everything isn’t the right answer. Time will tell what happens from here, but I thought today really accomplished what we were after.”