Congressman Roger Marshall recently outlined his priorities for healthcare reform in a recent mailer. One “priority” that really stands out is, “Protecting Rural Healthcare- Many rural hospitals have been hurt by the ACA; maintaining rural healthcare access is critical.” But, folks who understand Kansas healthcare issues tell us that it’s not the ACA (Affordable Care Act) that’s hurting our hospitals...
In the 2016 annual health insurance report by Kansas Health Foundation President Steve Coen we learn that, “Currently, Kansas is one of 19 states which has yet to expand Medicaid, which could be done through our KanCare program. By failing to take advantage of this opportunity, our state foregoes the chance to improve both the health of our people and the health of our economy. Expanding KanCare is a fiscally responsible way to create new jobs and grow the economy, help keep hospitals open, and provide 150,000 hardworking Kansans access to affordable healthcare coverage, while freeing up other dollars for schools and roads. It is a common sense step in the right direction that puts practicality over politics.”
Another report, entitled “A Look at Rural Hospital Closures and Implications for Access to Care: Three Case Studies” supports Coen’s analysis above... stating that under the ACA, “... Medicaid expansion can bring increased revenues into struggling hospitals...”
A recent study from the Urban Institute finds, “there was a $2.8 million decrease in uncompensated care costs per hospital associated with the expansion of Medicaid coverage. Hospitals in states with Medicaid expansion also saw about a $3.2 million increase in Medicaid revenue per institution compared to hospitals in states without Medicaid expansion.”
So, non-partisan studies disagree with Marshall’s assertion that the ACA is hurting hospitals. Instead, refusal by Governor Brownback and other hyper-conservatives to accept Medicaid expansion offered under the ACA is threatening hospital closures and jeopardizing the lives and health of Kansans while blaming that convenient old bogeyman Obama. It’s ironic that, by refusing Federal funds for Medicaid expansion, Brownback and his supporters are preventing Kansans from getting back millions of dollars in Federal taxes we pay every year, now totaling over a billion dollars for the past several years. That revenue is desperately needed as a consequence of equally ill-conceived corporate tax exemptions draining our treasury.
Looming hospital closures have serious real life consequences beyond cheap politics, especially during emergencies when every minute counts. Whatever your politics, endangering Kansans and blaming someone else for the problem is sick-minded.
Although the ACA needs improvement, our supposedly “pro-life” legislators can show they really are “pro-life” by supporting Medicaid expansion through the ACA, supposing the current crowd of ideologues keeps that part of the ACA. Congressman Marshall, please be more careful with the facts when using tax-funded government mail.