Every community must face an ever-changing environment and its influence on human well-being. How a community responds can be shaped by effective planning. That’s where United Community Services of Johnson County comes in. Through information, collaborative planning and mobilization of resources, the availability of health and human services can be enhanced to meet present and emerging needs.
Health Insurance Coverage in Johnson County
Access to health insurance has been an important policy topic for many years. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2013, the proportion of residents throughout the country, state of Kansas, and Johnson County who have insurance has steadily increased. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 95% of Johnson County residents have health insurance. However, that leaves more than 31,000 people in our community without the critical coverage that they need to see a doctor when they get sick, pay for prescription medications, and receive the preventative health services that protect individual and public health.
The 2016 1-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that some groups of Johnson County residents are at higher risk of lacking health insurance than others. For example, poor and low-income households have higher uninsured rates than households with more income. Additionally, while people of color account for only 21% of the Johnson County population, they account for 47% of the uninsured population and have an uninsured rate that is more than three times the uninsured rate of white non-Hispanic residents. Immigrants account for more than 60% of the uninsured residents of Johnson County. Age is also a determining factor when it comes to health insurance coverage. Almost half of uninsured Johnson County resident are working-age adults between the ages of 25 and 44 years old.
Most insured residents have health insurance coverage as a benefit from their employer. Those who cannot afford employer-based insurance or who do not receive health insurance as an employment benefit may choose to purchase health insurance through the individual marketplace. People in all income groups use the individual marketplace for health insurance – more than 1 in 9 marketplace enrollees have a household income of 3 to 4 times the federal poverty level, which was between $36,180 and $48,240 for an individual in 2017.
In the 32 states and District of Columbia that have expanded Medicaid (the health insurance program for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities) the uninsured rate has declined even more rapidly than it has in Kansas. On average, the uninsured rate in non-expansion states is 12%, compared to 7% in states that have expanded eligibility, according to an analysis conducted by the Kansas Health Institute. The Kansas Medicaid program is called KanCare.
In most states, Medicaid expansion provides health insurance coverage to individuals and families who earn too little income to qualify for subsidized health insurance through the individual marketplace, but earn too much income to qualify for the state’s current Medicaid program. Medicaid expansion is designed to cover individuals and families who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or approximately $28,200 for a family of three. In Johnson County, 22% of the population with income at or below 138% of FPL are uninsured. That represents approximately 11,000 Johnson County residents who might gain health insurance coverage under expansion of KanCare.
More information about KanCare expansion can be found at the Alliance for HealthyKansas website.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-year estimates 2016; Kansas Health Institute, 2018
Health Partnership Clinic and Shawnee Mission School District Partner to Add New School-Based Clinic in Merriam Park Elementary School
Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) has added a new federally qualified, school-based health center at Merriam Park Elementary School, 6100 Mastin St., in Merriam, Kan. The new site will only be available to Shawnee Mission School District students.
The clinic will offer specialized pediatric-focused care to treat most health conditions that affect school-aged children. Services are available through the school year to any Shawnee Mission student or child who attends the district’s Early Childhood Education Center. “School-based clinics can make a huge difference to students’ health as well as their academic lives,” said HPC’s CEO Amy Falk. “In partnership with the school district, we hope to expand our reach to the community and offer convenient care that limits the amount of time students are out of class and parents/guardians must be off work.”
“Our goal is to serve as a medical home for children and offer an additional access point to primary care,” notes Anne VanGarsse, MD, FAAP, CHCEF, Pediatrician and Chief Health Officer. “Clinic services will include sick child visits, well-child and sports physicals, immunizations, chronic disease care like asthma, obesity and high cholesterol, mental health services, social service referrals and nutritional guidance.”
Shelby Rebeck, MSN, BSN, RN, Health Services Coordinator for Shawnee Mission School District says, “The idea is to break down barriers to health care. Barriers for many of our students include low income, lack of knowledge, lack of transportation and parents’/guardians’ inability to take time away from hourly jobs. Health Partnership provides a tremendous opportunity for our students to receive critical health care so that they can be successful in school.”
“The Shawnee Mission School District and Health Partnership Clinic are an example of how two organizations can come together to help improve the lives of children,” says Chaussee Druen, Principal, Merriam Park Elementary School. “The school-based health clinic will greatly expand the resources of our school nurse and social worker, and we hope to see improvement in attendance and student achievement.”
The new center has operating hours on Tuesdays for walk-in health services and Wednesdays for behavioral health services. It accepts KanCare/Medicaid, commercial insurance and uninsured patients. A sliding-fee discount program is available to those who qualify. The center will be housed in existing space at the school. For more information about Health Partnership Clinic, or to schedule a medical appointment, Shawnee Mission School District parents should call 913-648-2266. To schedule a behavioral health appointment, parents should contact the school’s building social worker, or call 913-993-6422.
Kansas Public Policy Forum Focus – Health Equity & Federal Budget’s Impact on States
This year’s Kansas Public Policy Forum, hosted by UCS, Community Health Council of Wyandotte County (CHC) and United Way of Greater Kansas City, convened 15 state legislators from Johnson and Wyandotte counties as well as local elected officials, county and city staff, health and human service agencies, health foundation grant makers, community advocates, educators, and residents.
UCS Executive Director Julie Brewer and CHC Executive Director Jerry Jones began the forum discussing issues that impact health in Johnson and Wyandotte counties such as poverty, lack of health insurance, safe and affordable housing, and barrier to success for children and youth. Both agencies have received grants from the Kansas Health Foundation to improve health equity, the fair and just opportunity for everyone to be as healthy as possible, in their respective communities.
David Adkins, Executive Director/CEO of the Council of State Governments, was a featured presenter at the forum. The Council of State Governments is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving all three branches of state government. It is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. Adkins, a former Kansas state legislator, discussed the role federal funding plays at the state level and the potential impact of the President’s proposed budget cuts to critical Kansas safety net programs.
The forum included a panel of experienced legislators including Senator Laura Kelly, Representative Kathy Wolfe Moore, and Representative Linda Gallagher. The panel discussed the upcoming legislative session, current work of the Child Welfare System Task Force, Mental Health, and SNAP, TANF and other safety net programs. A summary of the Kansas Public Policy Forum and copy of the presentation materials will be available on the website soon.
UCS recently released a report entitled “From Foster Care to Independence: An Assessment of Best Practices to Support Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care”. This report represents the culmination of several months of research conducted by UCS in response to the 2015 Framework for Reducing Poverty and Creating Opportunity, which calls on the human services sector to increase access to the safety net for childless adults and transitional-age youth. The report includes a system assessment, review of best practices and model programs, and recommendations for stakeholders.