PITTSBURG — Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers visited southeast Kansas Monday, making stops in Baxter Springs to attend a ceremony marking the installation of a new stoplight and in Pittsburg to meet with medical professionals to discuss KanCare expansion and other healthcare issues.
Rogers’s first stop Monday was at a ceremony to celebrate a new stoplight at the intersection of Highway 69 and Baxter Springs High School, which has been the site of fatal accidents in the past, including the one that killed 17-year-old Daniel Simons several years ago.
“We went to kind of christen it,” Rogers said. “It’s been working for the last week or two. But we’ve actually been trying to get down there two other times and got snowed out, so we were glad to finally be able to get down here.”
Rogers also visited Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas in Pittsburg to discuss efforts to expand KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program. After the January announcement of a bipartisan KanCare expansion proposal, years of disagreements over the issue have once again reemerged to stall the plan in recent weeks.
Opponents working to block the Medicaid expansion legislation include anti-abortion activists. Rogers said Monday that the issues of Medicaid expansion and abortion are not directly related.
“We’re wanting to stress, you know, that they are two totally distinct items. You know, there are people that support both, there are people that support neither,” Rogers said. “You can separate them, because they’re not connected.”
Other opponents of KanCare expansion have reportedly said the proposal will increase healthcare premiums and will not do enough to help rural hospitals or to address the federally funded healthcare program’s disabilities waiting list.
Rogers said, however, that those who oppose the Medicaid expansion plan should not simply try to block a vote on it, but should be willing to allow debate on the bipartisan proposal that Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning has endorsed.
“Kansans deserve the opportunity to debate this in the Senate. We got it in the House, but we did not get it in the Senate,” Rogers said.
“I’m very disappointed in the Senate leadership and the far-right leadership that’s saying ‘we don’t even want to talk about it,’” he said.