Republicans on the far right — Gov. Sam Brownback included — took advantage of the “blame Obama” theme in scoring recent Election Day victories.
Democrats this past November, and moderate Republicans in 2012 faltered in part because ultraconservative Republicans misleadingly linked them to President Barack Obama and his signature health-care reform policy, the controversial Affordable Care Act.
The Brownback administration also has blamed the ACA — better known as Obamacare — for contributing to the state’s current and massive budget deficit. They claim higher Medicaid costs were a factor in Kansas’ gaping budget hole, when the self-inflicted budget mess was driven by Brownback’s reckless income tax-cut program.
Yet a governor who repeatedly said Kansas wanted no part of Obamacare actually turned to funds made possible by the federal law for help with the state’s budget crisis.
Brownback’s plan to address a nearly $280 million budget hole through June — a figure set to balloon to $648 million next fiscal year — included a $55 million sweep from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s fee fund.
The fee fund was a byproduct of Obamacare in money received from the Medicaid pharmacy rebate program. Change brought about by the ACA made all medications dispensed via Medicaid — including those for beneficiaries in managed care — eligible for rebate.
Such funds should go to health care for low-income Kansans instead of falling prey to desperate money grabs.
The hypocrisy in Brownback’s Obamacare-related assist also mirrored actions of Koch Industries, which benefited from a temporary provision of the ACA in an Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.
Koch Industries — key allies of the governor, and fervent Obamacare critics — applied for and received early retiree subsidies, which helped the company pay health insurance costs for retirees not covered by Medicare.
Like other businesses, the Kochs took advantage of an ACA in place to help the uninsured, seniors and young adults with coverage.
And now, the very policy Brownback and company used to malign political foes would come in handy to help address a budget disaster the governor created in the first place.
If the situation wasn’t so shameful, it would be downright laughable.