It’s baffling why Kansans continue to vote against their own self-interest.
Case in point: We keep electing politicians who promise to stand up to President Barack Obama and Obamacare. Sticking it to the man, death panels and all of that, right? Actually, we’re sticking it to ourselves.
Kansas hospitals and others have been warning us since our state first refused to join the Affordable Care Act that by not doing so and expanding Medicaid, Kansas hospitals would lose out on millions of dollars in reimbursements. This is on top of the millions in Medicare and other reimbursements that those hospitals lost because of cuts under the Affordable Care Act.
According to the Kansas Hospital Association, rejecting Medicaid expansion thus far has cost Kansas an estimated $475 million. And, according to a story by the Kansas Health Institute, the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion is the main factor that might force some hospitals to close.
The two hospitals mentioned in a recent KHI story, Mercy Hospital, Independence and Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, are looking to stay alive, for now, by partnering with neighboring hospitals.
The Independence hospital is facing cuts of nearly $570,000 in Medicare reimbursements and federal money designed to partially cover the costs of treating uninsured patients. However, if Kansas were to expand Medicaid, it would generate an estimated $1.6 million yearly for the hospital.
Hospitals, especially low-volume facilities in the 21 states that didn’t expand Medicaid, are hurting. Since 2010, 48 rural hospitals have closed and more than 280 are listed as “in trouble,” according to the National Rural Health Association.
In all but the very small towns, there are two things that are seen as essential. The first is a school, and the second is access to health care. Without those, towns go away.
The question is, how will those who pledge allegiance to conservative politicians and radio and TV talk show hosts react when it’s their hospital that closes? The attacks against Obamacare will slow when more rural Kansans have to pay more in taxes to support their local hospital, or when their town loses the good jobs and tax revenue a hospital provides.
Sticking it to the man? No, we’re sticking it to ourselves.
From The Salina Journal, April 7, 2015