It’s been one irresponsible act after another in the Kansas Statehouse, with a heartless stand on health care among the worst.
Gov. Sam Brownback has spearheaded a shortsighted, damaging push against Medicaid (KanCare) expansion that’s left some 150,000 uninsured Kansans — mostly working poor — without coverage.
Brownback, a Roman Catholic, would even ignore leaders of the Catholic Church.
The Rev. Robert Schremmer, vicar general of the Dodge City diocese, rightly called on lawmakers to honor Biblical values of compassion by aiding poor and sick people trapped in a cycle of economic hardship and delayed health care.
Brownback and company won’t listen. Legislative leaders were defiant in blocking public debate on the important issue this past session.
Even in an election year — especially in an election year — lawmakers should have addressed Medicaid expansion, and for reasons beyond helping poor Kansans.
Since January 2014, cash-starved Kansas has turned away more than $1 billion in federal dollars that would aid struggling hospitals and health-care providers — to include numerous rural hospitals in jeopardy — and also boost local economies.
Opponents, though, claim Medicaid expansion approved in most states has proven disastrous.
Not so. While costs have indeed exceeded estimates in some states, they’re not rushing to reverse expansion of Medicaid coverage.
That said, we do need a Kansas-specific solution. Careful analysis shows a financial gain for the Sunflower State through Medicaid expansion.
But that doesn’t matter to a far-right faction obsessed with blocking anything tied to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — a movement fueled by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national bill mill serving major corporate interests.
ALEC-inspired decision-making already wrecked the state budget and crippled vital state programs. Kansas can no longer afford such abysmal policymaking.
Brownback and fellow ALEC Republicans, however, won’t budge. They’re determined to avoid honest, fact-based debate.
Meanwhile, a coalition of business, faith and health interests has launched an election-year campaign to build momentum for state approval of Medicaid expansion.
While the group doesn’t plan to endorse select candidates, anyone running for the Legislature had best be prepared to make a thoughtful case for or against Medicaid expansion.
When they do, those who put pragmatism above politics deserve our wholehearted support at the polls.