More than a decade ago before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Kansas Legislature made a good faith effort to pass its own version of health care reform. Experts from think tanks from the political left and political right traveled to Topeka to educate Kansas legislators about different models of reform. I attended several hearings as an interested citizen.
At some point during that time frame, a conservative Republican legislator shared publicly with her constituents her own battle with cancer. I shared with her the early detection and diagnosis of my own prostate cancer and successful treatment.
I thought during our conversation I had found a soulmate on the journey through medical illness and treatment. Clearly, I was wrong. In subsequent years, this legislator became a vigorous opponent of Medicaid expansion.
I would not be here to write this letter if I had not had health insurance throughout my life cycle — not to mention a team of wonderful doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.
I would suggest that every legislator who has voted against Medicaid expansion remove their health insurance card and place it in a safe-deposit vault for three to six months. They should experience on a trial basis what it is like to be uninsured in America. Actuarial figures may vary, but one estimate is that at least 200 Kansans a year die in the absence of Medicaid expansion. How can any legislator sleep through the night knowing this?
Ira Stamm, Topeka