Medicaid expansion would be good for Kansas.
Those who agree see the value in covering many low-income Kansans, and the financial benefit in a state with serious fiscal woes due to Gov. Sam Brownback’s reckless income-tax cuts.
But politics continue to trump pragmatism as Brownback and fellow ultraconservatives push back against anything linked to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Retaining federal tax dollars and providing access to affordable health care for some 150,000 uninsured Kansans — mostly working poor — are cause enough to expand KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid system.
Yet cash-poor Kansas has turned away more than $1 billion in federal funds — so far — since January 2014.
A state with more than $1 billion in budget shortfalls in recent years has no business watching Kansans’ federal taxes go elsewhere — especially when those dollars also would aid struggling hospitals and health care providers, and boost the economy.
When it comes to Medicaid expansion already approved in most states, a recent analysis showed that by investing $40 million, Kansas would land $218 million in federal revenue or state cost savings in 2017. Costs would rise to $91 million annually in 2020, but revenue and savings would hit $239 million.
Kansas could save in reducing or eliminating certain categories of health care expense, including prisoner health care costs and grants to community mental health centers.
The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, which wants Kansans to know what’s at stake, has planned a KanCare Expansion Forum for 6 to 8 tonight in Classrooms B and C at St. Catherine Hospital.
Expect the presentation to counter rhetoric from ultraconservatives aligned with a key Medicaid-expansion opponent in the American Legislative Exchange Council, which writes model bills designed to benefit large corporations intent on rewriting rules of government to suit their interests.
We need Kansas-specific solutions, not more of ALEC’s one-size-fits-all, anti-government approach.
Knowing ALEC-controlled ultraconservatives have blocked debate on expanding KanCare, citizens should engage in a grassroots movement that gets the attention of elected representatives in Topeka.
As challenging as that may be considering the Legislature’s current makeup, it’s always important to understand issues and be heard. Tonight’s local forum will help.