TOPEKA (KSNT) – Data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicated nearly 250,000 Kansans lack health insurance.

Governor Laura Kelly gave a speech where she highlighted Medicaid expansion following the results of the U.S. Census Bureau survey.

Kansas’ uninsured rate for working-age adults surpassed the national rate for the second consecutive year with a rate of 12.5% compared to the U.S. average of 11.3%, according to a press release from the Office of the Governor.

Of those uninsured, the largest demographic was individuals 35 to 44-years-old. In total, 8.6% of the population in Kansas is uninsured, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Medicaid expansion has been a top issue for Kelly throughout her tenure as governor. Kelly’s Medicaid expansion proposals have faced strong political opposition. Chair of the Washburn University Political Science Department Dr. Bob Beatty said there may be enough votes for Medicaid expansion in the legislature but the Republican House and Senate leaders haven’t been willing to put it up for vote.

“She got very close in 2019, but they wouldn’t put it up for a vote,” Beatty said.

On Wednesday, Kelly announced her “Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy” tour and that Medicaid expansion would be a top priority in the coming legislative session.

“While 40 other states have expanded Medicaid, Kansas continues to lag behind the nation in health care coverage because the legislative has yet to accept the federal funding – which Kansans have already paid for through taxes – needed to get more workers insured,” Kelly said. “That’s unacceptable. Kansans should call their legislator and urge them to expand Medicaid this upcoming legislative session.” 

Kansans had a higher-than-average number of people with healthcare coverage prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The rate of uninsured in Kansas has been closer to or exceeded the national uninsured rate, according to the press release.