To the editor:
As a medical student hoping to one day return to work as a family doctor in rural Kansas, I am normally encouraged by the amount of support our state offers to students like me who recognize the enormous need for primary care in most Kansas communities.
However, I am gravely concerned about Gov. Brownback’s unwillingness to accept Medicaid expansion money offered through the Affordable Care Act. Not only would this decision put our state’s rural hospitals at risk of going bankrupt, it would also discourage medical students like me returning home to work.
Because each state has the opportunity to insure more of its citizens through Medicaid expansion, federal reimbursements normally given to hospitals for treating uninsured patients are scheduled to disappear. Today, a majority of these funds go to rural hospitals. Thus they stand to be hit the hardest! Without access to new Medicaid dollars, rural hospitals will be unable to make up for their losses and will be forced to close their doors.
I am up for many challenges in my career as a rural family doctor, but working in a community where the nearest hospital is more than three hours away is NOT one of them.
I understand Brownback has some concerns about the state’s eventual financial responsibilities with the Medicaid expansion, but I hope he will recognize the much greater cost to our rural communities and its hospitals should he refuse to do so.