The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas is looking for a few good storytellers.
As Kansas’ largest advocacy group for the expansion of Medicaid – called KanCare in Kansas – leaders of the organization are hoping that hearing the stories of those who have dealt with the hardships of being uninsured will help spur legislators to action.
That’s the role they want a Storyteller Corps to play as they set up a series of public events and prepare to lobby the state legislature to hold hearings and advance KanCare expansion legislation in the 2023 session.
Kansas is one of 12 states that have not chosen to expand Medicaid following a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that the portion of the Affordable Care Act mandating the expansion was illegal. That ruling left the decision of whether or not to expand Medicaid up to individual states.
In Kansas, there are about 145,000 adults who could qualify for health insurance coverage if KanCare was expanded. That estimate projected would add 95,000 adults age 19‒64 and nearly 50,000 children—to the KanCare rolls.
At a recent Wichita event, the coalition offered a workshop for people who have already shared their stories with the alliance to learn to deal with legislators, the press and public forums.
Former Kansas state Rep. Melody McCray Miller emphasized that legislators listen to the people who elect them.
“You don’t need to be afraid to talk one-on-one with legislators,” she said. “Your story carries weight. The more people approach any legislator, the more they realize that this is important to the voters and the more likely they are to act on your behalf.”
She told advocates to always end a conversation or a presentation by asking for their support on the issue.
“Always pose the question: Will you help us?” she said.
The Rev. Bobby Love, the pastor of the 2nd Baptist Church in Olathe, also spoke to the group and said that he believes the faith community can help create the groundswell that will get the legislature to take action.
He urged people who can’t get access to the care they need to talk to their faith leader and tell their story.
“This is a human condition and a common sense thing, not a Black or White or political thing,” he said. “It’s a question of doing what’s right for people.”
Current storytellers are people who have agreed to share their stories with Marissa Alcantor, the story collector for the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas. Those willing to take an active role in advocating for KanCare expansion should reach out to Alcantor at firstname.lastname@example.org