TOPEKA, Kan. – Feb. 5, 2019 – Approximately 60 cancer survivors, caregivers and their families from across the state gathered in Topeka today to urge lawmakers to improve Kansans’ access to health care coverage and confront youth smoking rates.
The visit was part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s annual Day at the Capitol. Throughout the day, advocates met with their lawmakers and urged them to expand access to KanCare.
Under current eligibility requirements, most adults do not qualify for health coverage through KanCare. In 2010, states were given the opportunity to accept funding from the federal government to increase access to coverage, but Kansas opted out, creating what is referred to as the “coverage gap.” This represents the approximately 150,000 Kansans who make too much money to qualify for KanCare and cannot afford private insurance or marketplace coverage.
Stephanie Barr, of Overland Park, is one of those KanCare recipients. At age 30, she was screened and diagnosed with breast cancer through the state’s Early Detection Works program, which helped her enroll in Medicaid. Eight years later, she continues to receive treatment related to her cancer and attends college full-time.
“It’s scary to hear you have cancer, and it’s even more terrifying when you don’t have health insurance,” Barr said. “Quality health insurance is critical to making sure cancer is detected at a treatable stage and helping patients get the care they need. I’m here with ACS CAN today so that our lawmakers know this means life or death for so many Kansans.”
ACS CAN volunteers also asked their legislators to pass a law that would increase the age of tobacco sales to 21 years old. Currently, six states have statewide laws on the books.
“There are 61,000 kids alive today in Kansas who will ultimately die prematurely from tobacco use,” said Jordan Feuerborn, Kansas government relations director for ACS CAN. “But if young people don’t pick up a tobacco product before age 21, they are much less likely to do so when ey’re older. In conjunction with significant tobacco tax increases, smoke-free laws and full funding for tobacco control programs, a tobacco 21 law can help effectively combat youth tobacco use before we lose more lives to these deadly products.”
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.