Group urges Brownback to expand Medicaid eligibility

Former State Rep. Carolyn Weinhold was among those who gathered at the Statehouse on Friday in support of expanding the state's Medicaid program. In the 1990s, Weinhold was a Democrat representing a Salina district. She now works for the Kansas Disability Rights Center in Topeka.

Former State Rep. Carolyn Weinhold was among those who gathered at the Statehouse on Friday in support of expanding the state's Medicaid program. In the 1990s, Weinhold was a Democrat representing a Salina district. She now works for the Kansas Disability Rights Center in Topeka. by Phil Cauthon

About 100 people rallied outside the Kansas Statehouse Nov. 9, urging state officials to expand Medicaid eligiblity as provided for in the federal health reform law.

A Lawrence pastor cast the expansion as a Christian imperative during a call-and-response exercise with the crowd.

“If Jesus was up in the Capitol would he make a choice to keep 130,000 people without care?” said the Rev. Joshua Longbottom, associate pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence.

"No," the crowd shouted.

“If Jesus was up in the Capitol, would he tell families that they just need to get better jobs so that they could afford to take care of themselves?” Longbottom asked.

Again, the answer was "no."

“Did Jesus say, ‘I’m sorry you can’t get to the well, Mr. Leper, but you need to cultivate some self-reliance’?” Longbottom said.

“No,” the crowd yelled.

“So I ask the question, Gov. Brownback, ‘What would Jesus do?” Longbottom said. “I thought the mark of his ministry was caring for the ill, caring for the sick, caring for the dispossessed, caring for the marginalized, caring the first for the least.”

Longbottom said he hoped the governor wasn’t a “…politician who puts on his Christianity like it’s a cardigan (sweater), using it to gain access to a constituency.”

Brownback, a conservative Republican, has been outspoken about his Christianity and penned a spiritual autobiography titled "From Power to Purpose."

He's been a consistent political foe of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, first in the U.S. Senate and later as governor.

He has said repeatedly that the majority of Kansans are opposed to the reform law and cites the success of the law's opponents in recent state elections as the proof.

Expansion not ruled out

Last week, the governor announced that he would block the state’s participation in a state-federal insurance exchange, one of the hallmarks of the new law. But unlike some Republican governors, he hasn't ruled out the possibility he would support some sort of Medicaid expansion.

"The Medicaid expansion is a separate issue" from the insurance exchange, said chief Brownback spokesperson Sherriene Jones-Sontag in an email Friday to KHI News Service in response to a question asking if the governor would oppose opening up the program.

"We are continuing to discuss options and alternatives with like-minded states and with our legislative partners in Kansas," she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, but said the law couldn't oblige states to expand their Medicaid programs. The law gives states the option of expanding their Medicaid programs to include adults earning up to 133 percent of federal poverty guidelines.

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Tagged: obamacare, medicaid, act, aca, brownback, affordable, insurance, health, expansion, care, reform


Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

One way to eliminate the political and state by state hassle for everyone in addition to reducing the cost of all government substantially.

Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private.

Currently, the U.S. health care system is outrageously expensive, yet inadequate. Despite spending more than twice as much as the rest of the industrialized nations ($8,160 per capita), the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates. Moreover, the other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves 51 million completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered.

The reason we spend more and get less than the rest of the world is because we have a patchwork system of for-profit payers. Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with the bureaucracy. Combined, this needless administration consumes one-third (31 percent) of Americans’ health dollars.

Single-payer financing is the only way to recapture this wasted money. The potential savings on paperwork, more than $400 billion per year, are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do.

Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.

Physicians would be paid fee-for-service according to a negotiated formulary or receive salary from a hospital or nonprofit HMO / group practice. Hospitals would receive a global budget for operating expenses. Health facilities and expensive equipment purchases would be managed by regional health planning boards.

A single-payer system would be financed by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste. Modest new taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business. Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, global budgeting and bulk purchasing.

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