Kansas Policy Agenda

To achieve the foundation's mission, we believe it is essential to invest in advocacy and public policy activities and to engage more directly as an organization on specific state and federal policy issues that present the opportunity to improve access to health coverage and strengthen the health care safety net.

KanCare Expansion

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The REACH Foundation supports KanCare expansion to close the coverage gap for working Kansans and protect the state’s health care workforce and health systems that are the primary source of care for low-income families.

  • Kansas is one of only 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid, leaving 165,000 Kansans in a health coverage gap without affordable options. Lack of health coverage, particularly during a pandemic, has placed Kansas workers, hospitals and health care systems at risk.
  • Expanding KanCare will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into critically needed health care systems and the economy, increasing jobs and tax revenue, and providing the state savings. By law, 90% of the costs of expanding KanCare will be funded by the federal government. In addition, Kansas is forfeiting federal recovery funds by continuing to not act.
  • Declining expansion does not save the state money nor reduce the need for health care. More than two-thirds of adults eligible for KanCare expansion have jobs or reside in working households – most employed in the service industry, construction, retail and other small enterprises that are the backbone of Kansas communities.

Sound Fiscal Policy

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The REACH Foundation supports budget and tax policies that ensure adequate revenue is available to invest in core services and programs that can help Kansas workers and families thrive.

  • Kansas continues to face health, employment and economic challenges due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected households, commerce and communities across the state.
  • The pandemic has created health, housing and employment hardships – highlighting the importance of economic relief. Programs such as SNAP, TANF, EITC and child-care subsidies can help workers and their families gain their footing during challenging times.
  • One key strategy is elimination of the state’s food sales tax, the second highest in the country. This proposal would deliver immediate benefits to households without diverting resources from other state agencies.

Public Health Infrastructure

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The REACH Foundation supports investments in the state’s public health infrastructure and equitable allocation of public health resources.

  • Kansas has long maintained a decentralized public health system that relies heavily on local funding and is governed primarily by county commissions and other elected officials.
  • This localized approach to public health results in wide variation in resources, staffing and capacity, which impacts counties’ abilities to respond to critical health issues. Furthermore, this funding model has placed Kansas near the bottom nationally for public health funding per capita.
  • Given the importance of public health entities in addressing community health, Kansas should assess the state’s public health capacity, work to rebuild the depleted public health workforce, and train and prepare local public health departments for future health needs.

Expanded Use of Telehealth

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The REACH Foundation supports expanded use of telehealth to increase access to health, mental health and behavioral health services for rural and other underserved populations.

  • Use of telemedicine in the U.S. had been minimal prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but provider and patient acceptance of this new mode of delivering care has grown during the current health crisis.
  • The federal government eased restrictions on telehealth in the Medicare program. States have relaxed restrictions around provider licensing, online prescribing and written consent. These and other temporary changes have helped to ease longstanding barriers to care, including provider reimbursement, geographic isolation, health condition and other limitations.
  • Kansas policy makers should take steps now to extend use of telehealth after the pandemic. Areas for action should include review of state telehealth policies; service and payment parity across all types of insurers; investments in technology access and use; and education and training for providers to ensure effectiveness.

Missouri Policy Agenda

REACH supports the work of our Missouri advocacy partners and develops an annual policy agenda to guide the foundation's engagement on state and federal policy issues that present the opportunity to improve access to health coverage and strengthen the health care safety net.

Implementation of Medicaid Expansion

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The REACH Foundation supports streamlined implementation of Medicaid expansion to ensure all eligible Missourians are able to secure coverage through MO HealthNet.

  • Missouri voters’ action in 2020 paved the way for nearly 275,000 working-age Missourians to access health coverage.
  • Given the economic benefits of a healthy workforce, it is imperative state health officials work to eliminate application barriers and provide consumers with timely assistance with applications and renewals.
  • Missouri leaders should take advantage of the enhanced federal resources available to support expansion efforts – leveraging current opportunities to invest in the state’s health care systems, job creation and income growth.

Sound Fiscal Policy

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The REACH Foundation supports budget and tax policies that ensure revenue is available to invest in core services and programs that are demonstrated to help workers and families thrive.

  • Missouri’s tax policies and budgeting practices are not set up to provide a reliable revenue flow that can support basic public needs – such that Missouri falls behind many states in funding for roads, workforce, child and adult health, education and more.
  • Missouri leaders have the opportunity to use federal resources, including pandemic relief funds, to strengthen economic security programs, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, nutrition assistance and other public benefits that can help lift families out of poverty.

Public Health Infrastructure

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The REACH Foundation supports investments in the state’s public health infrastructure and equitable allocation of public health resources.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of a well-organized public health infrastructure. Missouri’s decentralized approach has resulted in an uneven distribution of COVID-19 resources and assistance.
  • Missouri’s localized approach to public health funding needs re-examination. Public health units receive a base amount of state funding but depend on federal and local grants to sustain their operations. This approach places Missouri nearly last among states in per capita funding for public health.
  • Missouri leaders should assess its current public health capacity and commit attention and resources to updating the state’s surveillance system, bolstering its depleted workforce and addressing equitable distribution of funding.

Expanded Use of Telehealth

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The REACH Foundation supports expanded use of telehealth to increase access to health, mental health and behavioral health services for low-income, rural and other underserved populations.

  • Use of telemedicine in the U.S. had been minimal prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but provider and patient acceptance of this mode of delivering care grew during the current health crisis.
  • The federal government eased restrictions on telehealth during the pandemic. States relaxed restrictions around provider licensing, online prescribing and written consent. These and other pandemic-related changes eased barriers for consumers, including access to appointments, transportation and other limitations.
  • Missouri lawmakers should take now to extend the use of telehealth after the pandemic. Areas for action should include reviewing telehealth policies to support expanded utilization; investing in broadband infrastructure, technology access and use; and education for providers and consumers to ensure effectiveness.
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