Sam Brownback can be a hero – or heartless – on Medicaid expansion

Sam Brownback

Sam Brownback

The eyes of the nation are now focused squarely on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

Will he veto the Medicaid expansion bill that the Legislature finally passed Tuesday — surprisingly and overwhelmingly — just days after Congress essentially upheld Obamacare as the law of the land?

I predict Brownback will take the heartless route and, worse, the House and/or Senate will barely fail to override it.

But the governor should take another, better approach.

He should sign the bill. That would make him a legitimate hero to people served by expansion as well as to the large majority of Kansans who have said they want to provide health care services to more than 150,000 disabled or low-income residents.

Brownback has never articulated compelling reasons to oppose Medicaid expansion.

It doesn’t cost the state a ton of money. In fact, providing better health care will pay off in ways that the state can’t measure. In addition, the governor’s complaint about taking care of disabled people on waiting lists before expanding Medicaid is incredibly misleading.

Meanwhile, in three years, the state’s failure to approve expansion has cost Kansas more than $1 billion in federal funding — money that’s flowed to the 31 other states that have decided to improve health care for their citizens.

Brownback on Monday trotted out neophyte spokeswoman Mellika Willoughby to spew obnoxious nonsense about expansion. That’s led many Kansans to believe Brownback is sticking with past negative comments about such action.

However, state Sen. Barbara Bollier offered an insightful quote about Brownback on Tuesday, when the Senate voted to expand Medicaid though without a veto-proof majority.

“If it was me, I’d actually want to do something for the people maybe,” Bollier said. “Instead of going out unpopular and Ivan the Terrible, let’s leave Ivan the Terrible off.”

The rumors at the Capitol are that Brownback will be nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.

Brownback often claims to have a soft spot in his heart for helping people who need it.

So prove it, governor — and not overseas.

Do it in Kansas. Expand Medicaid to help the people of the Sunflower State.

Be a hero, not a heartless politician.

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