LETTER: Medicaid expansion

Nancy Bauder

To the editor:

To date, 39 states have adopted Medicaid expansion and 12 states have not. Now all of the states around us have passed legislation to adopt Medicaid expansion.

Lawmakers had passed an expansion bill in 2017, but then-Gov. Brownback vetoed it. Last year, moderate Republican and Democratic representatives tried to pass a bill, but it was blocked in the Republican-led Senate. An estimated 150,000 people in Kansas would be covered by Medicaid if the bill had passed, and that money would have gone to our medical providers and hospitals. I am angry that over the years, more than $3 billion in my federal tax dollars has gone to other states.

Now Kansas has become an island. Every surrounding state – Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and now Missouri – has expanded Medicaid coverage. Today, this isolation could have more dire consequences for our health care systems and hospitals, leaving them to care for a growing number of working adults and children without access to other health care options.

Community hospitals have closed in Great Bend, Horton, Fort Scott, Independence, Oswego, Wellington, Overland Park and now our own Cushing Memorial Hospital in Leavenworth.

It wasn’t COVID-19 that last year reduced our cherished hospital to a shell of its former self, displacing more than 150 jobs. It was the fact that Cushing has been providing charity care for over the past few years with no relief.

If I were a hospital or medical center looking for a home, I wouldn’t come to Kansas right now. Why would anyone build a medical center in Kansas if it is not able to cover costs? If you support Medicaid expansion, look at your legislators’ records. Ask your candidates. Then vote.