Suzanne Wikle, Director of Health Policy, Kansas Action for Children
Last week, Liz Arjun blogged about the fact that CHIPRA has encouraged many states to move forward on health coverage for children despite achallenging budgetary climates. We took a look at Colorado’s expansion in a guest blog entry last week. This week, we want to visit another state that stood behind its commitment to cover more kids despite a deteriorated state budget outlook. Suzanne Wikle, Director of Health Policy at Kansas Action for Children, offers her perspective on what happened in Kansas.
Children’s health care isn’t just about children. And, it isn’t just about one political party or another. What’s happened in Kansas over the past few years is a perfect example.
Last year, the Kansas Legislature voted to expand eligibility for HealthWave (our state’s CHIP program) from 200 percent to 250 percent of poverty. That plan – spearheaded by Senate Republicans – was contingent upon federal reauthorization of CHIP. When Congress came through in February with the federal dollars, the Legislature kept its promise.
It took voices and votes from both sides of the aisle to keep that promise. Republican leadership in the Senate has been steadfast in its support of funding for the expansion. Democrats, historically supportive of previous expansion efforts, were critical to securing funding on the House side.
For some legislators, the economic issue rings true. When our next generation is healthy, they will be better equipped to contribute to our tax base and to our communities. For others, the cost-effectiveness is important. HealthWave is the best return on our state’s investment. Federal resources cover 72 percent of the funding and no other program has this high of a federal match. But, for many, the best argument is that it’s the right thing to do for our children and for our state. Let’s hope that policymakers across the country follow the example set by Kansas.
The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Children and Families.