Cancer survivors push for Medicaid Expansion

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — In honor of World Cancer Awareness Day, many cancer survivors, loved ones and medical providers gathered at the state Capitol to advocate for Medicaid Expansion.

Stephanie Barr was diagnosed with late-term breast cancer nearly 10 years ago. She was uninsured and terrified of the cost of treatment. Luckily, she qualified for a branch of Medicaid specifically for women with breast and cervical cancer.

“I had won the cancer lottery,” Stephanie joked.

Stephanie says she is extremely grateful that Medicaid paid for her medical bills. She says she is one of the lucky ones. But on Christmas Day, her mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Her mother, however, does not qualify for Medicaid assistance.

“They already delayed one of her treatments because she didn’t have a way to pay for it and so it’s just so frightening to me,” said Stephanie.

Healthcare providers say these stories are not uncommon. People are diagnosed with cancer every day and are unable to afford the costs.

“They’re sitting there, tears streaming down their face, ‘Lori, I know this is what you’re recommending but I can’t afford it,'” explained Nurse Practitioner Lori Ranallo.

Lori says she often hears patients talk about forgoing treatment in order to pay bills and provide for their family.

Advocates are asking lawmakers to quickly pass Medicaid Expansion and to not add work requirements.

“These patients are trying to live, that’s what our goal is,” added Lori.

Last month, Governor Laura Kelly (D) and Senator Jim Denning (R) announced their compromise plan for Medicaid Expansion. The plan does not have any requirements for recipients to work and already has bipartisan support.

“Many thousands of Kansans will be healthier and live more productive lives when we get this done. This bill, in its current state, needs to come to my desk in a matter of days, weeks at most,” said Governor Kelly.

The bill is expected to pass through the Senate quickly. It is unclear when the House will debate the bill. Both Governor Kelly and Senator Denning say they hope to have Medicaid Expansion implemented by January of 2021.

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