Medicaid for rural aid

Kansas common sense suffered another blow Monday when the House came three votes short of overriding Gov. Brown­back’s veto of House Bill 2044, which would have expanded the Medicaid program in our state. The House voted 81-44; 84 votes were needed.

This bill would have:

• Provided important health-care coverage for more than 150,000 of our most vulnerable citizens.

• Brought hundreds of millions of tax dollars back to Kansas.

• Supported struggling hospitals and health care providers across the state.

• Created a fiscally responsible, patient-centered, health care plan for our state.

• Created jobs and boosted the Kansas economy.

Brownback said the bill failed to serve the “truly vulnerable before the able-bodied,” lacked work require­ments to help able-bodied Kansans escape poverty, would burden the state budget with unrestrainable entitlement costs and funnel more taxpayer dollars to Planned Parent­hood.

More than 82 percent of Kansans support KanCare expansion. To date, Kansas has lost nearly $1.8 billion of our own federal tax dollars because of the failure to do what’s best for Kansas and expand KanCare. Congress recently signaled that the opportunity for states to expand their Medicaid programs would remain the law of the land, at least for the foreseeable future. Clearly, the data show that this legislation could have helped, not hurt, the state’s budget situation.

The rural areas of our country are in the political cross-hairs. On average, people in rural counties tend to be older, have lower incomes and have less choice when it comes to providers and insurers.

Despite the withdrawal of the vote on the Ameri­can Health Care Act and the indefinite postponement of discussion on replacing the Affordable Care Act, health-care access remains a challenge for rural residents, the CRA states. Staffing shortages, insufficient mental health services, the costs of caring for an aging population and the threat of hospital closures all stand as limitations to care.

Additionally, insurance is a mirage for millions who remain in the coverage gap due to the decisions of a preponderance of rural states not to expand Medicaid coverage.

Tragically, the mirage still envelopes Kansas. When will common-sense politics and conscientious compassion return to our state? —DR

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