Archive for Monday, November 5, 2012

GOP raises specter of Medicaid expansion as campaign issue

November 5, 2012


TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback’s allies have raised the potential expansion of the state’s Medicaid program as a campaign issue in the days before Tuesday’s election decides races for the Kansas Legislature, with conservative Republicans seeking to bind Democrats to President Barack Obama and the federal health care overhaul.

The federal law enacted in 2010 contemplates an expansion of Medicaid to cover millions of uninsured Americans, and it promises that the federal government will pick up the full cost until 2016 and most of it afterward. A U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June said states could refuse to expand their programs, which provide health coverage for the poor, the disabled and elderly.

Many Kansas Republicans are skeptical of the funding promises, noting the federal government’s ongoing budget problems. Officials assume Brownback will declare after the election whether Kansas will opt in or out of the expansion, but retiring House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a conservative Hutchinson Republican who’s also chief executive officer of the powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said last week that voters need to know whether legislators and candidates would support an expansion.

The chamber already has attacked Democrats for opposing a proposed health care “freedom” provision for the state constitution, protesting the federal law’s mandate that most Americans buy health insurance starting in 2014. O’Neal issued his statements as Democrats were pointing out that the measure was largely symbolic, countering the chamber’s assertions in mailings that the proposal would “stop the Obama agenda at the Kansas border.”

But the Medicaid issue also ties into longstanding Republican themes portraying Democrats as advocates of big government. A report in July from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation said an expansion would cover nearly 264,000 adults in Kansas — where 393,000 residents now receive health coverage through the state.

“The simple fact is, we can’t afford it,” said House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, a conservative Olathe Republican, adding that if Obama is re-elected, “We’re going to be watching that very closely.”

Democrats aren’t openly embracing a Medicaid expansion, even if they believe it would reduce the number of uninsured Kansans. They contend the state can’t seriously contemplate any additional spending because of massive income tax cuts enacted this year.

Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon said any discussion of expanding Medicaid was “rendered moot” when Brownback signed the tax cuts in May. Legislative researchers estimate that the cuts are worth $4.5 billion over the next six years and project that the reductions — meant to stimulate the economy — will produce collective budget shortfalls approaching $2.5 billion during the same period.

“He’s dug a hole as big as the Grand Canyon in the budget,” Wagnon said.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

Brownback and his puppets just want to pay more tax dollars the insurance industry. No money will be saved. And service will go straight to hell.


George_Braziller 1 year, 5 months ago

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary's office announced just this afternoon that 1,500 people on the Medicaid Physical Disability Waiver waiting list have been been dropped. Some have been waiting for months or years.


lucky_guy 1 year, 5 months ago

I don't see any problem. We cut taxes to stimulate the economy, remember Laffer said so and he must be right, cuz he told Reagan about cutting taxes. So we get t the poor and disabled to work for rich people and all the Medicaiders to go away. The old people on medicaid are just magically going to go away too, cuz we only worry about job creators in Kansas. I don't see anything but blue skies and unicorns.


rockchalk1977 1 year, 5 months ago

Poor people are dancing while rich people pay the band. Welcome to Obama's America. Let's change it starting tomorrow. Romney Ryan 2012.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 5 months ago

Hmmmm.. Another day where there is an article in the print edition that does not appear here in the digital edition. I am referring to the news article in today's JW parint edition that the president is leading barely in many of the so-called "swing sttes".

I am told that this is not indicative of anything, but come on, people! This election is one of the most contentious and debated elections in many years, lying and disingenious politicians ripping their opponants to shreds in misleading and down right fraudulant television ads. Now we hear that the Republican Gestapo is sending agents out to the polls to "assure voting rights". this will be, of course,. to those that Kris Kobach has enfranchised with his voter i.d. laws while shirking his duties as Kansas Secretary of State. Some of you dismiss me when I compare things that happened in 1930's Germany to present current events, but to those of you who are ignorant of history, Hittler DID NOT TAKE OVER GERMANY....THE CLUELESS CITIZENS OF GERMANY GAVE IT TO HOM!!!! Keep that in mind as your Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, free speech rights, voting rights, civil rights and other rights we presently enjoy are flushed down the toilet with the rise of the facist right. in the United States of America.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 months ago

"The simple fact is, we can’t afford it,” said House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid,"

No, as a committed class warrior, you choose not to "afford" it.


Dan Eyler 1 year, 5 months ago

I haven't been made any promise. Who expects or believes promises from government? Fewer the promises the better.


Paul R Getto 1 year, 5 months ago

"Many Kansas Republicans are skeptical of the funding promises......"

The understatement of the year, no doubt.


Dan Eyler 1 year, 5 months ago

I want to thank the legislature and the governor for walling off any state funded Medicaid expansion. I am a big proponent of communities and cities paying more of the cost to run government. Lawrence for example needs to pay its own way. If we want to expand local government spending we the citizens Lawrence need to foot the bill. If cities want more money for social services and schools they should raise their own taxes. This will force a serious discussion and increase transparency on local spending and priorities. Cutting the income tax will be a tax raising firewall in Topeka and communities across our state. Now we can start deciding on our priorities and how we pay for them.


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 5 months ago

Republicans; government so small it fits in your uterus.
(This isn't off topic. Any discussion of Medicaid must include it's impact on the healthcare of women. Especially poor women.)


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 5 months ago

Not everybody has RR retirement (which is more generous than SS). If Social Security retirement is all of the retirement funds a person gets, then frequently Medicaid picks up what Medicare doesn't cover. I suggest you research this thing called SHIP (state health insurance assistance programs). You can find it at


volunteer 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm not sure why this writer lumped in the elderly with the poor and the disabled as the three groups eligible for Medicaid. My 91-yr-old mother relies on railroad retirement Medicare and the supplemental Blue Cross for which she pays $240 monthly. Her eldercare specialist attorney has not mentioned the possibility of Medicaid assistance. Either sloppy journalism or sloppy lawyering.


Mike Wasikowski 1 year, 5 months ago

Hold on a minute. Hasn't the GOP been complaining about the federal government making unfunded mandates on the states for years now? So now that the federal government is rather generously funding a mandate on the states, the complaint is that the federal government can't afford to fund it? It almost sounds like they just don't want the federal government to tell the states to do anything regardless of whether it's funded or not. Why don't they just say that instead of moving the goalposts?


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