Johnson County Mental Health Center highlights Medicaid expansion during advocacy day in Topeka

Johnson County Mental Health Center will attend the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas’ advocacy day in Topeka on Thursday and urge lawmakers to expand Medicaid in the state.

“Johnson County Mental Health Center strongly supports Medicaid expansion,” said Tim DeWeese, Johnson County Mental Health Center director. “As the costs of housing, food, and other essentials rise, too many in Johnson County do not seek treatment for mental illnesses or substance use disorders because of a lack of access to affordable care.”

The consequences of lack of treatment of mental illnesses are significant, including increased incarceration, substance use, hospitalizations and suicide rate, as well as struggles with family, school and employment. According to the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, nearly 8,000 Johnson County residents would become eligible for affordable health insurance if Medicaid were expanded in Kansas.

Failure to expand Medicaid also impacts Johnson County taxpayers. Johnson County Mental Health Center provides over $7.2 million of charitable care annually. A significant portion of that care – $3.5 million, or 49% – would be covered by federal funds if Medicaid were expanded in Kansas.

“Johnson County’s federal income taxes fund Medicaid expansion in 38 other states, while our property tax dollars cover the gap in coverage at home. We’re paying for the same services twice,” said DeWeese.

Kansas is one of only 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid. Two pieces of legislation to expand Medicaid – HB 2675 and SB 472 – were proposed last month.

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