One billion dollars for Kansas

One billion dollars. That's a lot of money. You've seen the state miss revenue estimates almost every month for years now, as Brownback's tax policies continue to fail. And each time, we see him go back to the well, stripping services, slashing education funding, borrowing from one fund to feed another. And we are rightly aghast as this process continues to drain our state of its bright future. But every month it's a few million dollars. Maybe thirty million in a bad month. It's not a billion dollars.

Since 2014, Kansans have paid Federal taxes that ought to have returned to Kansas in the form of $1 billion of health care funding. We've paid towards the promise of health care access for the neediest among us. We've paid towards the promise of stronger communities, healthier retirements, and happier children.

And yet, Kansans have not seen that money. Instead, because of the petulant refusal of Brownback and his allies in Topeka, our state has refused to accept that money. One billion dollars. And counting. 150,000 working Kansans remain without health care as a result.

A coalition of health care professionals and community leaders has formed the Alliance for a Heathy Kansas to make sure Kansans know what is at stake in this election. They've held listening forums across the state, with more to come in the next month. At MainStream, we fully support their cause, so much so that we are recognizing them at our annual awards banquet on October 30th.

Yes, we're talking about expanding Medicaid. That's a phrase the extremists have imbued with foreboding. But Kansas has already taken over Medicaid, confusingly branding it KanCare. And they have mismanaged it badly. It has resulted in fewer patient services, unpaid doctors, and closed hospitals.

At a forum held over a year ago, two prominent Brownback allies, Sen. Jim Denning and Sen. Jeff King were asked what could be done about this money. Why couldn't Medicaid expansion be brought to Kansas. Why couldn't we expand KanCare? Their response? They said it was "an 18 month problem." The implication was that it would take until after the election, eighteen months from then, to even be addressed. And they were right. Brownback and his allies in the Kansas Legislature refused to hold a hearing this past year. They refused to discuss what health care would look like in Kansas if we'd had one billion more dollars to work with. How many children would have been covered? How many patients seen? How many rural hospitals would still be in business?

How did this eighteen month delay work out? Jeff King retired, after a hospital in his hometown closed, partly due to his refusal to expand Medicaid. Jim Denning is running again this Fall.

But Brownback and his allies are not done. In our voting scorecard you can see who voted to join the Health Care Compact, a resolution asking the Federal government to let states control Medicare, too. Kansas has botched the implementation of KanCare, their takeover of Medicaid. They have refused to accept funds we have already paid, that would make the lives of Kansans better. And they want to take over Medicare, too?

Last week we asked you to spread the word to vote to the bottom of the ballot, to retain our judges and keep our fair and impartial courts from the politicking of Governor Brownback and his allies. This week, we've given you another reason to vote in November: compassionate, decent health care is a right all Kansans should expect. As election day approaches, we will build the case, not only for voting, not only for doing more than voting, but for returning Kansas to its roots as a state we can be proud of.

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