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Medicaid resolution a line in the sand

Published on -2/26/2013, 9:23 AM

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We might be about to see the bright yellow line between the House's majority conservative Republican less-government mantra and the health of those representatives' constituents, the financial future of the hospitals that serve those constituents and the future of health care professionals who treat the sick and injured.

There's a chance that a decision made in the House may translate pretty well into a political acumen test for those legislators.

The issue: A resolution -- that's a nonbinding declaration of the will of legislators -- that urges the governor not to accept a federal government offer to expand the range of Kansans who qualify for Medicaid health care for the poor, or KanCare, the catchy new Kansas name for Medicaid.

Gov. Sam Brownback isn't keen on the federal expansion of eligibility for Medicaid, err, KanCare, for which the feds will pay 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and about 90 percent of the cost thereafter.

That billion dollar-plus offer means that more Kansans would qualify for health care and that the providers of that health care -- the doctors and hospitals and clinics and such -- would be paid for providing those services to Kansans.

Brownback so far is coy, but philosophically doesn't much care for the Medicaid expansion, saying that at some point, Kansas is going to pick up some of the bill for that care -- probably somewhere in his second term if he is re-elected.

So, if this decision can be squarely focused on the governor -- praise or blame, take your pick -- why in the world would legislators want to put their vote on a resolution to urge him to reject the Medicaid offer?

A vote for the resolution means they want the governor to reject care for some of their constituents, to punish the budgets of health care providers, and maybe, just maybe, see the closure of some cash-strapped rural hospitals and clinics that care for the poor in their communities?

A vote against the resolution? That can be portrayed as support for Obamacare that will undoubtedly show up in Republican primary elections statewide in 2014 as conservatives still chafing at the second term of President Barack Obama campaign against anyone who appears to have supported anything the president wants.

Seem like a political intelligence test? Why take potential blame when you don't have to?

Maybe you want to show support for Brownback who is leaning against accepting the health care assistance--that might be worth a Brownback endorsement if you run for reelection.

And, if Brownback for some reason changes his mind, you can still say that you question the program ... but, well, it was the governor's decision, and this resolution doesn't really do anything, anyway. It has no force of law.

Or, the House might decide it really doesn't want a recorded public rollcall vote on the resolution which is merely a suggestion, not a law.

Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report. To learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit www.hawvernews.com.

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