Archive for Friday, November 9, 2012

Rally-goers seek expansion of Medicaid; Brownback’s office says discussion continues

November 9, 2012


— When the Rev. Joshua Longbottom, an associate pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence, asked a rally crowd Friday what would Jesus do, the answer from several rally-goers was “Expand Medicaid.”

Hours after the event brought about 75 people to the Statehouse, Gov. Sam Brownback’s spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said the governor was studying the issue but had concerns about the costs.

“We continue to discuss options and alternatives with like-minded states and with our legislative partners in Kansas,” Jones-Sontag said.

Medicaid is a state and federally funded program that currently serves nearly 400,000 Kansans, mostly children, pregnant women and people with disabilities.

Under the federal Affordable Care Act, the state has the option to extend Medicaid coverage to include all children and adults under the age of 65 who live at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that is an annual income of $30,657 or less.

Extending the Medicaid program could provide assistance to as many as 130,000 more Kansans, according to the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition.

Under the ACA, the federal government would pick up all the cost of expanding the program for the first three years and most of the cost after that. But Brownback, other Republicans and some Democrats have said they feared expanding Medicaid and then having the federal government renege on its commitment because of budget problems.

In addition, Jones-Sontag said, “We must be mindful of the impact of the cost an expansion would have on other state core responsibilities like K-12 education and prisons.”

The rally came one day after Brownback nixed a state-federal partnership to build an insurance exchange designed as a marketplace where consumers can review and compare health insurance plans. Now the federal government will run the exchange in Kansas.

People at the rally expected that Brownback, an ardent opponent of the ACA signed into law by President Barack Obama, would say no to expanding Medicaid.

Tina Tribble, of Overland Park, was one of four people holding a sign that said “Brownback = Bankrupt.”

She said the massive tax cuts signed into law by Brownback would prevent the state from adequately funding schools and health care.

“Once we are one big failed experiment, maybe someone from the East Coast will save us,” Tribble said.

The state is decreasing its individual income tax rates for 2013, with the top rate dropping to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent. Also, the state will exempt the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from income taxes. Brownback has said the tax cuts will boost the economy and create jobs, but a new estimate shows the state will see a reduction of more than $700 million in revenue for the fiscal year that starts July 1, leading to a projected shortfall of $327 million.

There are nearly 380,000 Kansans without health insurance and for many “there simply isn’t an affordable option available to them,” said Anna Lambertson, with the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition.

Jennifer Weishaar of Lawrence said she has a pre-existing health condition that made it impossible to get private insurance.

Now she has coverage through a temporary plan under ACA, which will serve as a bridge until 2014 when insurance companies can no longer limit or deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition. “We want Obamacare in Kansas,” she said.

Will Dale, a junior at Kansas University, said health care was an essential right that should be “available to everyone.”

Kari Rinker, representing the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Thomas Witt, executive director of the Kansas Equality Coalition, who are both veterans of legislative battles, told the crowd that getting Kansas officials to expand Medicaid would be a long, tough fight that will require people staying involved and lobbying their legislators. “Keep pressing,” said Rinker. “We will get this done.”


Pepe 5 years, 6 months ago

LOL -- they have this rally on a Friday afternoon. They have plenty of free time to rally while the taxpayers who would be paying for this are busy working.

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

Of course, because there is no such thing as a lunch hour, having the afternoon off, having the day off because a person's workweek is 4-10 hours days, or even working 2nd or 3rd shift.

Everyone knows that all employers chain their employees to their desks between 8am and 5pm and that no deviation from that employment schedule exists.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

I'd guess there's a lot of truth in what Pepe says and a little bit of truth in what Katara says.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 6 months ago

From the Congressional Business Office, if anyone wants to know:

"The ACA contains a set of provisions designed to expand health insurance coverage, which, on net, are projected to cost the government money. The costs of those coverage expansions—which include the cost of the subsidies to be provided through the exchanges, increased outlays for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and tax credits for certain small employers—will be partially offset by penalty payments from employers and uninsured individuals, revenues from the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans, and net savings from other coverage-related effects."

Mike Wasikowski 5 years, 6 months ago

The GOP complains about states getting unfunded mandates from the federal government. Then when the federal government gives the states a very generously funded mandate from the federal government, they still complain. Why don't they just admit that they don't want the federal government to tell them what to do in any situation?

KS 5 years, 6 months ago

mikewaz - There are two problems with your comment. First, the federal gorvernment does not have the money to send to the states without borrowing from China. Second, at some point in time, the federal government will cease giving the money to the states and they are left holding the bag. Where do these programs stop? We already have a program to help the poor. Are we just getting more poor folks? If that is the problem, let's figure a way to get these folks out of poverty so they can pay their own bills. At some point in time, the rich guy will run out of money. What do you propose then?

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

The state is free to stop funding the programs when the federal subsidy stops many years from now, if it does. What a silly reason to not try something.

This program is designed to help the poor. The working poor, who are on their way out of poverty but not quite there. By making medical costs something that doesn't keep them in poverty and allows them to keep working to feed their families and/or further their careers, we are doing exactly that - giving them a hand up and not a hand out. It also benefits "the rich guy" who isn't giving them a job with insurance but is getting the benefit of not having them drop dead from financially induced medical neglect. It also potentially allows the small business owner to eek it out for a few years while he or she builds up a business. I've known a couple of people who took that risk while they started a businesses.

As a taxpayer who has insurance and would be one of the ones theoretically footing the bill, I am more than fine with this plan.

texburgh 5 years, 6 months ago

"'We continue to discuss options and alternatives with like-minded states and with our legislative partners in Kansas,' Jones-Sontag said."

So they are consulting with the Koch brothers, Derek Sontag of Koch-funded AFP, Dave Trabert of Koch "think" tank KPI, and Koch-owned Kansas Chamber CEO Mike O'Neal.

This is a health insurance plan for the poor and uninsured children the expansion of which will be paid for by the federal government under ACA and Sam "The Christian" Brownback is refusing to take it. This is because Sam and his owners believe that health care is a privilege not a right - that if you are not wealthy, you don't deserve health care.

I long for the day when the Catholic church will take all that biblical talk about "what you do for the least among us, you do for me" and apply it to dirtbag faux Catholics like Brownback. It's time to tell Brownback he can no longer take the eucharist just like pro-choice Catholic legislators are banned from the eucharist.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, I read that as "We continue to figure out new ways to sabotage the law." He doesn't give a rat's butt about the working poor in Kansas. If they can't afford to give him a campaign contribution, they're not worthy of his attention.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Sam and the gang like to send as many tax dollars as possible to the medical insurance industry however Sam's Plan is easy to beat.

House Resolution 676, authored by Representative Conyers, would expand Medicare to cover everyone. This summary was published by the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, including the California Nurses Association,, Progressive Democrats of America, and Physicians for a National Health Care Program.

  1. Everybody In, Nobody Out. Universal means access to health care for everyone, period.

  2. Portability. If you are unemployed, or lose or change jobs, your health coverage stays with you.

  3. Uniform Benefits. No Cadillac plans for the wealthy and Pinto plans for everyone else, with high deductibles, limited services, caps on payments for care, and no protection in the event of a catastrophe. One level of comprehensive care for everyone, regardless of the size of your wallet.

  4. Prevention. By removing financial roadblocks, a universal health system encourages preventive care. That would lower an individual's ultimate cost and reduce the pain and suffering that occurs when problems are neglected. This system would also decrease the societal costs stemming from the over-utilization of emergency rooms and the spread of communicable diseases.

  5. Choice. Most private insurance restricts your choice of providers and hospitals. Under the US National Health Insurance Act, patients have a choice, and the provider is assured a fair payment.

  6. No Interference with Care. Caregivers and patients regain their autonomy to decide what's best for a patient's health, not what's dictated by the billing department. No denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions or cancellation of policies for "unreported" minor health problems.

  7. Reducing Waste. One third of every private health insurance dollar goes for paperwork and profits, compared to about 3% under Medicare, the federal government's universal system for senior citizen healthcare.

  8. Cost Savings. A guaranteed health care system can produce the cost savings needed to cover everyone, largely by using existing resources without the waste. Taiwan, shifting from a US private health care model, adopted a similar system in 1995, boosting health coverage from 57% to 97% with little increase in overall health care spending.

  9. Common Sense Budgeting. The public system sets fair reimbursements applied equally to all providers, private and public, while assuring that appropriate health care is delivered, and uses its clout to negotiate volume discounts for prescription drugs and medical equipment.

  10. Public Oversight. The public sets the policies and administers the system, not high priced CEOs meeting in private and making decisions based on their company's stock performance needs.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

That's what you say every time you ask for a tax cut.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Get real there is no free stuff.


» PNHP Press Room Private insurers have cost Medicare $282.6 billion in excess payments since 1985

Researchers say privately run Medicare Advantage plans have undermined traditional Medicare’s fiscal health and taken a heavy toll on taxpayers, seniors and the U.S. economy.

Media professionals can arrange to speak with a national or local PNHP spokesperson by calling (312) 782-6006 or e-mailing

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Centerville 5 years, 6 months ago

"net savings from other coverage-related effects" like cutting Medicare reimbursement rates and denial of payment for Medicare re-admissions. I can hardly wait for our vaunted Senior Citizens to figure this one out. In the meantime, and since all the people at the rally have jobs, why don't we cut income taxes so people with jobs can meet more of their own needs, using the freedom of choice that being employed gives them.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

It's a mighty fancy job that pays $30,000 per year AND gives you a choice in health care plans. My bet is that most jobs around that pay range give you the choice of not buying insurance or quitting to be poor enough to finally get coverage.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Conservatives are peeved at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a GOP favorite, for praising President Barack Obama before the election. Some right-wingers even blame Christie for boosting the president's prospects at the last minute. (Christie hugged Obama! How could he?!)

Now, in the aftermath of the election, a powerhouse conservative outfit partly funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers is coming after Christie on another front, sharply questioning whether the governor will sell out conservatives in the latest battle over Obamacare.

The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill on October 18 creating a state-based online health insurance marketplace; it did so because under Obamacare a state must either create its own insurance marketplace or let the federal government do it. Christie vetoed a similar state-based insurance exchange bill in May, but he said last month he wouldn't decide what to do about the new bill until after Election Day.

Enter the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed conservative grassroots group. AFP-New Jersey is pressuring Christie to reject the state exchange bill and rebuff Obamacare's requirements before November 16, the date by which states must submit its health insurance plans to the federal government. Here's what AFP-New Jersey Steve Lonegan had to say about Christie in a press release zapped out two days after the election:

Barack Obama has been re-elected. Congress will not be able to repeal the law so now the burden is on the states to thwart it. That means these bureaucratic and costly exchanges must be stopped, along with the tax increases that come along with them.

Other conservative governors across the country like Sam Brownback, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and others have already taken a principled stand. Where is Governor Christie? Will he stand with them? Will he prevent New Jerseyans from having their health care choices controlled by federal bureaucrats? Will he allow our state’s struggling businesses to be hammered by Obamacare's tax penalties with unemployment hovering around 10 percent? Or will he continue to go along to get along with Barack Obama?

This preemptive chastising of Christie is an odd turn in the Koch-Christie tale. The Koch brothers have long been fans of the governor. On June 26, 2011, as Mother Jones first reported, Christie delivered the keynote speech at Charles and David Koch's ultra-exclusive seminar at the Ritz-Carlton resort near Vail, Colorado. At the event, David Koch hailed Christie as a "true political hero." He noted,

David Koch praised Christie for pushing legislation that took away the right of public workers to bargain collectively for health benefits and for pulling New Jersey out of a regional cap-and-trade market created by 10 Northeastern states to curb industrial greenhouse gas emissions. He expressed his hope of seeing Christie "on a larger stage where, God knows, he is desperately needed."

Mother Jones

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

The states can't "thwart" the ACA.

They'll have to implement it, the only question is whether or not they get a voice in how it's implemented.

JHOK32 5 years, 6 months ago

A member of my family was given no notice that her pain pills will not be renewed under Brownback's privatizing of medicare -she will now have to make several trips to the emergency room to get pain meds - at taxpayer's expense. This is just plain stupid! I suppose If he shoots himself in the foot out playing pheasant hunter he will also not get pain pills since we taxpayer's pay for his health insurance?

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