Archive for Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Brownback spokeswoman blasts Medicaid expansion

October 7, 2015

— Gov. Sam Brownback's office has indicated that the administration will not expand Medicaid and bring coverage to 150,000 uninsured Kansans, calling the plan "morally reprehensible."

Hospitals have sought to expand Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income and disabled Kansans, under the Affordable Care Act.

"Governor Brownback's primary objection is a moral one: Medicaid Expansion creates new entitlements for able-bodied adults without dependents, prioritizing those who choose not to work before intellectually, developmentally, and physically disabled, the frail and elderly, and those struggling with mental health issues," Melika Willoughby, Brownback's deputy director of communications, said in an email Tuesday to Brownback supporters, The Wichita Eagle reported.

"This isn't just bad policy, this is morally reprehensible," Willoughby said of the proposed expansion.

The administration has often said it won't expand Medicaid until it removes disabled Kansans already on Medicaid from a home services waiting list. Critics say the two policies are unrelated and that the waiting lists should not be used as an excuse to not expand the program.

Kansas has been encouraging low-income state workers to sign their children up for the federal Children's Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act. The state health plan's premiums increase in January, and funding for a health subsidy for the low-wage state workers will be reduced so the state can reduce costs.

Brownback, a Republican, used $55 million from a Medicaid pharmacy rebate program, possible through the Affordable Care Act, to help fill the state's budget hole in December. And in July, the Brownback administration used $17 million in federal funding for CHIP to reduce the state's contribution to that program.

The administration is being hypocritical, said Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees.

"The way this administration has condemned the Affordable Care Act, I think it is highly hypocritical that the administration has utilized the Affordable Care Act and the things it has allowed to provide coverage for Kansas children rather than making sure that people who work and live in Kansas can make a sufficient living to provide that for their kids themselves," Proctor said.

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