PITTSBURG — The Southeast Kansas Independent Living (SKIL) Resource Center and Kansas Poor People’s Campaign joined forces in Pittsburg last weekend to march for the expansion of Medicaid in the state.

SKIL president and CEO Shari Coatney, other SKIL employees, representatives of Kansas Poor People’s Campaign and others called for change in Kansas’ health care system during a peaceful protest march that began at the Pittsburg SKIL office, stopped at U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s office and concluded at the public pavilion west of Broadway Street.

Since 2014, Kansas has lost millions of dollars because it has refused to expand Medicaid, causing great stress on community programs and services, according to the Kansas Poor People’s Campaign. SKIL and the campaign hosted the march because Kansas legislators continue their refusal to expand Medicaid health care coverage, even amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"It is exciting to be working with Poor People’s Campaign to bring awareness to the issues regarding our state not expanding Medicaid," Coatney said in a column posted Oct. 4 on SKIL’s website about the event.

"Medicaid expansion would allow many people who work as personal care attendants to have access to medical coverage that, in return, would help people level the playing field when hiring attendants," she said in the column. "Many times good, caring people will have to leave their jobs as caregivers to get health insurance. This leaves a shortage of attendants."

Andy Rausch, a southeast Kansas resident and SKIL employee quoted in a news release by Kansas Poor People’s Campaign, said, "I am one of many Kansans for whom Medicaid has been beneficial. I had a heart transplant in 2018. Had I not had that transplant, which I got only because I had Medicaid, I wouldn’t be here today. My children would have no father."

For more information, contact Christina Blair, Pittsburg SKIL independent living coordinator, at 620-231-6780 or toll-free at 1-866-927-6780.