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SPOTLIGHT
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Put politics aside

Published on -11/25/2013, 9:14 AM

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Put politics aside

It is past time for you, as a citizen of Kansas, to take action. The governor has elected to move the decision regarding Medicaid expansion to the upcoming session of the Kansas Legislature. The no-cost-to-Kansas Medicaid expansion providing quality health care could be made available to more than 169,000 people in our state.

Here are a few compelling reasons why this shouldn't even be debated. Federal monies have already been set aside to pay for this expansion. There will be no increase to the deficit or taxes. This removes any excuses there would be an increased cost to Kansans. What the expansion will do is cover 169,000 people who are not poor enough for current Medicaid nor qualify for the health care exchange.

These individuals represent the most disadvantaged among us. The Medicaid Expansion component of the Affordable Care Act was never intended to be a choice, but rather an integral part of ACA. In a recent independent study requested by the Kansas Hospital Association, the Medicaid expansion would increase state revenue, create jobs, and lower health care costs. Additionally, the study found 75 percent of Kansans support Medicaid expansion, which keeps Kansas tax dollars in Kansas.

Current economic benefit would be $507 million annually, which is $3.55 billion between 2014 and 2020. New economic growth would see $319 million annually, or $2.24 billion from 2014 to 2020. There is an anticipated $89 million savings in lower health care costs from 2014 to 2020. There is the potential of 3,500 to 4,000 new jobs created as part of the expansion mostly in the health care sector. Without the Medicaid expansion, many struggling rural hospitals will find themselves unable to continue providing services. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs from 2014 through 2016; 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019, and 90 percent beginning in 2020. Kansas will never pay more than 10 percent of costs for this expansion. Currently, Kansas pays 43.5 percent of the existing Medicaid recipients. This is 40 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $7,540 for 2013. There are 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid, 18 of these have Republican governors. There are 31 states expanding Medicaid. This includes 19 Democrat governors, 11 Republican governors and one independent governor as of Nov. 6.

These states are doing the right thing for their most vulnerable citizens. Sam Brownback doesn't appear to care. It is time for you to contact your Kansas legislators before the session begins in mid-January and inform them of your support for Medicaid expansion. Politics should not determine quality health care. Your Kansas House is up for re-election in 2014.

Shelayne Dunham, Council Grove

Louise Smith, Hesston

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