This past week showed us what can happen when we decide to work together as Republicans and Democrats. It is clear that Kansans want to take care of their neighbors. Medicaid expansion is a critically important and very positive piece of legislation for uninsured Kansans and healthcare providers. Unfortunately, Gov. Brownback stated it did not meet the three criteria he was looking for, so he vetoed it. This was not a surprise to most people tuned-into the topic. We are sorely disappointed at Geary Community Hospital, yet we would like to commend our local legislators who voted for and continue to support this healthcare bill.
It’s important to note this isn’t just a healthcare issue, this is an economics issue. According to KHA, our state has lost $1.7 billion of our own tax dollars, because of the refusal of many to consider expansion. Thirty-one states have successfully expanded their Medicaid program. National, multi-state and single state studies show 31 states expanding Medicaid under the ACA have realized budget savings, revenue gains, and overall economic growth.
For Geary Community Hospital expanding Medicaid would bring approximately $1.2 million annually in needed revenue to help take care of the uninsured and underinsured population. These funds would not be a profit-windfall, but instead dollars to pay your local, county healthcare system for services rendered for those who do not or cannot pay, whether it be in the clinics, hospital, or emergency room. Let us not forget this past July the Governor’s office dealt yet another blow to hospitals statewide, with a sudden decision to decrease all Medicaid payments by 4% in an attempt to help address the state’s budget shortfalls. This unexpected decision by policymakers meant about a $200,000 take-away from GCH for the budget year.
Many people believe the state is ripe to expand Medicaid. Rep. Susan Concannon, R-Beloit, asked “if this isn’t the right time, when is the right time?” As well, many think that with the recent failure in the U.S. Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare it opens up new opportunities to expand Medicaid for thousands of Kansans and many citizens across the nation. Lawmakers will reconvene on Monday to discuss and see if they can muster enough votes to override the veto. In the meantime, we urge you to contact your local representatives and ask them to vote yes to override the Governor’s veto of HB 2044.