Knocking down Brownback’s three odious, ignorant excuses on Medicaid expansion

Sam Brownback last week, vetoing health care help for more than 150,000 Kansans.

Sam Brownback last week vetoed Medicaid expansion.

UPDATED NOON MONDAY: The Kansas House narrowly failed to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s ignorant, malicious veto of Medicaid expansion.

That’s a huge shame. Because Brownback’s three main reasons for vetoing expansion were horribly misplaced and factually wrong.

Here they arebro

The “waiting list” argument is nonsense. The “work requirements” section is sophomoric prattle. And the “neutral impact on the state budget” line is idiotic coming from the governor who has nearly bankrupted the state.

Brownback has long clung to these hateful positions no matter how many extra Kansans — a reported 150,000 or even more — could be helped by Medicaid expansion. He also never mentions that Kansans have lost out on $1.7 billion or more in federal funding for expansion while sending their tax dollars to the 31 other states that are providing better health care for their residents.

Point by point:

— The disabled community is horrified by Brownback’s use of  them as an excuse to not provide services to other Kansans.

Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, last week wrote an excellent piece titled, “The disability community urges expansion of Medicaid.”

A few key notes: “Contrary to the governor’s claims, the disability community would benefit from the expansion of KanCare. Many Kansans with disabilities aren’t currently eligible for KanCare and are uninsured, placing them among the more than 150,000 Kansans who would be covered by expanding the program. In addition, the direct support workers and personal care attendants who care for Kansans with disabilities would also benefit from Medicaid expansion. This workforce is the backbone of the disability services system.”

— Brownback’s attacks on “able-bodied” Kansans and a requirement that they “work” to get access to Medicaid dollars is an off-base, mean-spirited, ultra-conservative talking point.

In reality, the overwhelming majority of these “able-bodied” people already work, are in school or are taking care of someone else in their family with health problems.

From the Health Affairs blog:

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Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik wrote plenty more on the topic last week after Brownback’s veto, including  this on the “able-bodied” argument.

“The notion that able-bodied Americans are getting away with something is what animates the crusade to add work requirements to expansion Medicaid. The flaw here is that Medicaid is not a welfare program for the jobless, but a healthcare program. Its benefits never have been predicated on recipients’ seeking or holding a job, in part because that’s unnecessary: About 80% of all Medicaid recipients already are members of working households, and 60% are working themselves. Of the others, according to a 2016 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, all but 3% are ill or disabled, going to school, are family caregivers at home, retired, or unable to find a job. In other words, work requirements appear to be more an ideologically punitive step than a practical one.”

— Brownback’s insistence of Medicaid expansion having a “neutral impact” on the Kansas budget is absolutely absurd.

State officials claim the added cost to the state could be at least $33 million a year in the next two fiscal years. But that’s a puny part of a $6 billion annual budget.

Much more notably, Brownback’s disastrous fiscal policies have damaged the state’s budget — and harmed public services for 3 million Kansans — far worse than anything the expense of Medicaid expansion could do.

Brownback’s 2012 income tax cuts have drained Kansas of billions of dollars in revenue. They have left Kansas in a horrible financial situation. The governor looks silly hiding behind the excuse that he’s being fiscally prudent when his own actions have so decimated Kansas’ future.

The Legislature needs to override his veto and make it possible to provide subsidized health care for hard-working Kansans who need it.