Just because the election is over doesn’t mean the arguments are over. Arguments between conservative and liberal, rural and urban, east and west, rich and poor, citizen and immigrant, man and woman, young and old.
The election was like a tight lid on a pressure cooker, and all that happened Tuesday is some of the pressure was allowed to escape. Everything is still cooking though.
The day after the election, Gov. Sam Brownback announced Kansas would not implement a state partnership exchange under the Affordable Care Act. He’s not willing to OK the creation of a totally state-run exchange either. That’s what Romney did for the state of Massachusetts. Having lived there once, it didn’t surprise me that it was the first state that implemented state-run mandatory health care. Massachusetts has a nickname in that part of the country – Taxachusetts. Perhaps Mass simply has a whole lot more money than Kansas does, and that’s how they can afford to protect the public health the way they do.
Instead, Brownback’s solution is to force the federal government to manage it for the state instead. Now this surprises me. You’d think the last thing a tea party governor would want is for the Feds to mess with something that touches the lives of every constituent in the state he’s been elected to lead. But I’m betting Brownback simply thinks the Feds don’t have enough money or manpower to really be effective, so he plans to do nothing.
Next door the people of Colorado voted to make it legal to both grow, buy, and possess marijuana for recreational use. It’s still illegal under federal law, so the question is how will the federal government enforce the law? And here in Kansas, law enforcement is worried soon, I-70 will be filled with tourists heading for their Rocky Mountain High in Colorado. How will Kansas ever be able to police the traffic effectively enough now? Will there be border stops at Kanorado? Drug dogs searching for illegal souvenirs?
I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve come to a conclusion. Maybe it will all work out. Maybe the increased tourism traffic will bring increased tourism dollars to Kansas too. Restaurants will increase in western border counties, ready to serve hungry travelers suffering from the munchies. Convenience stores will begin marketing all sorts of “helps” to ward off drug sniffing dogs to the gullible. Tax revenue is bound to increase. And then there’s the money to be made for traffic violations. Soon, we’ll see more reports of people driving too slowly on the highways, rather than too fast.
People in Kansas that continue to not be able to afford health insurance won’t have to go too far to ease the pain of disease. A short drive to the west and they can find all the relief they need. If that doesn’t help, perhaps they’ll just move there so they too can enjoy universal health care.
And maybe that’s what Brownback really has in mind. He’ll attract conservative, anti-universal healthcare businesses to the state, repel those with health issues too expensive to deal with on their own, and benefit from the legal drug trade to the west. Ten years from now, the state will be rolling in dough, and overrun with some of the most healthy, conservative people in the country.
Just a thought.
Veronica Coons is a reporter for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.