Morning Sun
  • OUR VIEW: Hold your nose and take the Medicaid expansion

  • One hot issue in Kansas is whether or not to accept the expansion of Medicaid as offered by Obamacare.

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  • One hot issue in Kansas is whether or not to accept the expansion of Medicaid as offered by Obamacare.
    In order to understand the expansion, one needs to understand how it works now.
    In Kansas, Medicaid covers the elderly, pregnant women, children and the disabled poor. Not disabled and no children? No Medicaid. Not disabled and you have children? You’re only eligible if you make less than 32 percent of the federal poverty level -- $5,900 annually for a family of four, as reported by the Topeka Capital-Journal.
    One part of Obamacare would expand Medicaid to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level -- almost $32,000 for a family of four.
    For the first three years, the expansion would be completely covered by the federal government. After that, the feds would pick up the bill for 90 percent of it.
    Democratic governors have, as expected, largely accepted the funds.
    Republican governors in some states, including Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa, have rejected the funds, as the Supreme Court has said they have the right to do.
    Some GOP governors, like those in New Jersey, Michigan, Arizona and Florida, have accepted the funds despite their objections to the larger law of Obamacare.
    There are issues beyond politics and whether to accept money from the feds.
    For instance, whether or not the state accepts the money and expansion, there will be added costs to the state. In short, because of the requirement everyone has insurance, many who don’t have Medicaid now but are already eligible will sign up.
    KDHE predicts the state will pay $513 million more without Obamacare.
    With the Obamacare Medicaid expansion? $616 million according to Aon Hewitt, an Illinois firm.
    So by that math, if the state is willing to pay an extra $100 million or so, it gets $800 million in federal aid.
    A Kansas House committee has already passed a resolution calling on the governor to reject the funds.
    One leading opponent of the Medicaid expansion, Rep. David Crum, R-Augusta, is against the plan because he doesn’t believe the federal government should go into debt to fund the expansion.
    Other opponents say they don’t believe the federal government can keep budget promises to the states.
    These are terrible arguments for not helping those who need the help most -- the poor.
    If not liking federal debt was a reason for rejecting federal plans, then we eagerly await Crum’s resolutions against the Bush-era tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, each of which incurred more federal debt faster than the Medicaid expansion.
    Further, if opponents are worried about the federal government fulfilling its promises, then why does the state ask for any federal funds? It’s disingenuous for legislators to believe that this or that program will cause the federal government to break, while trusting and relying on other federal programs.
    Page 2 of 2 - To summarize, the state is going to take on extra expenses either way. The federal government is offering $800 million to help fund Medicaid for more of the poor in the state. The state would only have to pay an additional $100 million than it already will have to pay.
    Kansas has been making tough decisions lately. We understand that opponents may not like the source of the Medicaid expansion -- Obamacare. But the benefits of helping our state’s working poor are greater than the costs to the state or the distrust of the federal government.
    Opponents say that they worry about the federal government going into debt to help its poor. But we would argue that a state that doesn’t take care of its poor is already morally bankrupt.
    Hold your nose, Sam, and take the money.
    — For the Morning Sun

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