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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter: Health coverage remains big problem in state

  • The older I get the less common sense there seems to be in the world. So, the federal government passed the ACA with a carrot and a stick.
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  • To the editor:
    The older I get the less common sense there seems to be in the world. So, the federal government passed the ACA with a carrot and a stick.
    The stick was the individual and employer mandates – obviously a concession to insurance companies who wanted to make sure everybody paid in if they were going to pay out.
    The carrot – the feds offered to pay 100 percent of Medicaid costs in each state for three years (2013 through 2015) if the state would expand Medicaid to coverage to those with incomes up to 130 percent of the poverty level. Medicaid does not go to those in poverty – it goes to the hospitals and doctors who see and treat the poor – obviously another concession to healthcare systems.
    But – what did Kansas do? We decided we didn't want the federal money.
    So, now that the mandates will be implemented (as of Jan. 1, 2014), Kansas' leadership has created another serious problem. Medicaid in Kansas only covers up to 38 percent of poverty – up to an annual income of approximately $6,000 for a family of four. In Kansas, anyone who makes more than $6,000 is responsible for paying their own medical bills.
    The ACA offers subsidies to those with "limited" income to assist in paying for health insurance. But, the subsidies start at 130 percent of poverty (approx. $22,000/year for a family of four).
    In Kansas – those households with incomes between $6,000 and $22,000 now have no Medicaid, and no subsidies to assist in the mandated purchase of health insurance. And, the doctors and hospitals who previously received compensation from the federal government for serving large numbers of poor people – that was eliminated with the passage of the ACA.
    We can never get back the Medicaid coverage that we turned down for 2013. But we should all be insisting that Kansas expand Medicaid to 130 percent of poverty. Otherwise the many families whose incomes fall between $6,000 and $22,000 will not only have no healthcare access – they may be charged a penalty because they didn't purchase the mandated insurance!!
    And doctors and hospitals will have no source of payment for providing any care to this group.
    Call your state senator and representative. Call the governor. We have less than three months to fix this terrible, but easily fixable, problem.

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