Fiscal responsibility means managing resources effectively and investing for the future. Kansas’s experiment with the trickle-down theory did not work , and it put the state $7.1 billion in debt. It is time to create an equitable tax structure which takes care of the state’s needs and allows Kansas to pay back the money it has borrowed from the pension funds and the highway funds.
Kansas has borrowed $3.2 billion from KDOT and has been unable repay it. This means we have not had money to invest in new roads, and the infrastructure we have is suffering from deferred maintenance. How can our cities and businesses function with decaying and crumbling infrastructure?
Our citizens’ health is another asset which Kansas has not managed responsibly. Our failure to expand Medicaid has deprived the state of $3.1 billion, which is mostly our money since we paid it in federal taxes. But the greater cost is that 150,000 of our citizens do not have health insurance. This has greatly hurt our hospitals and medical care providers who are often not paid for their services, particularly in rural areas which have seen hospitals and clinics close.
One of the best investments we can make in our future is to educate our children and young adults. The state did not have money to adequately and equitably fund our schools or our universities, leading to devastating budget cuts. The social costs of poor education often show up as increase costs in welfare and our penal system.
Kansas needs to develop a tax structure which will fund our needs, allow investments in our future, and pay off the debts we have accumulated. On a positive note, the Governor has just appointed bipartisan leadership for a committee to study the entire tax structure.
Thirty-seven states have expanded Medicaid, but Kansas has not. Our failure to expand Medicaid has so far cost Kansas $3.4 billion, which is mostly our money since we paid it in federal taxes. But the greater cost is that 150,000 of our working citizens do not have health insurance. This has greatly hurt our working poor, our hospitals and our medical care providers who are often not paid for their services. This has hit rural areas particularly hard as they do not have the resources to make up for the loss. Rural hospitals and clinics have been forces to close and it is estimated that 30% more are at risk .
The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas has a plan to expand Kancare, Kansas’ Medicaid program. Federal dollars will pay for 90% of the cost and Kansas will be responsible for 10% of the cost, making it a great bargain. If the plan is adopted:
- It would provide medical care coverage to 150,000 low-income working Kansans who cannot not afford it. They do have enough income to receive subsidies from the Affordable Care Act but make too much to qualify for the present Kancare system. It would cover preventive medical care and greatly reduce the spread of communicable diseases.
- It would inject $5.3 billion into our economy in just the first 10 years.Those funds would have a multiplier effect on consumer spending, business activity, jobs, personal income, and state tax revenue.
- It would create jobs. A study by George Washington University found that expanding KanCare would create 3,500 – 4,000 new jobs in the next five years.
- It would cut the unpaid bills for emergency services. Emergency room care is very expensive compared to preventive care. Emergency rooms are required by law to treat everyone, and those without medical insurance often wait until they are very sick and then go to the emergency room for care. Unreimbursed costs drive up costs for everyone and endanger the financial stability of medical care providers and hospitals.
- It would reduce bankruptcies. Many of us are just one major accident or illness away from a bankruptcy. A Harvard study found that about 50% of all bankruptcies in the United States are caused by illness and unpaid medical bills. Bankruptcies affect everyone because the health providers, banks, businesses, and credit card companies who lose money in the bankruptcy pass the cost on to the rest of us.
- It would improve everyone’s health. Your family’s health depends on the health of everyone in your community. You and your family will likely come into contact with thousands of people during this next year. People without health insurance are much less likely to receive immunizations and preventative care – and are much more likely to have untreated communicable diseases.
Much of the opposition to expanding Medicaid is related to opposition to the Affordable Care Act. A study by the Brooking Institute found that 37 states who have so far expanded Medicaid are satisfied with results and none wish to withdraw from the program.
The 2019 House of Representatives passed Medicaid expansion by a vote of 69 to 54, and there were enough votes in the Senate to pass it, but the Senate leadership refused to let it come to the floor for a vote. The Senate leadership promised that they would have a bill ready for vote in January 2020, and we are hoping their word is good. That delay will cost Kansas about another $665 million. It is time we tapped into the Federal funds available and made health insurance available to the 150,000 Kansans without medical coverage.
Gov. Kelly and Sen. Denning met over the summer and put together a compromise Medicaid Expansion bill which had 22 cosponsors in the Senate, more than enough to pass it. However, Senate President Susan Wagle, who opposes Medicaid expansion, sent sent it back to a committee whose chairman is also opposed Medicaid expansion. It would have taken 24 votes to bring it back to the Senate for a vote, and so it died in the the committee.
It is likely the makeup of the Senate will change in the next election, making passage more favorable. Unfortunately, many legislators are now concerned about the federal government paying its share of the cost or that funds from Medicaid expansion might be used for abortions. To get Medicaid Expansion passed in 2021, it will need an amendment which will cancel the program if the federal match falls below 90%, or if money from is used to fund abortions.
Here are my goals for keeping Kansas a great state and the best reasons for them – our children and grandchildren.
- Restore fiscal responsibility to Kansas (Read more)
- Develop an equitable tax plan ( More … )
- Properly fund education ( More … )
- Pay retirement fund obligations ( More … )
- Fund the new Eisenhower infrastructure plan (More)
- Fund maintenance on roads, T-Works ( Read more )
- Expand Kancare for 150,000 Kansans ( More … )
- Protect voter’s rights ( More …)
- Reduce sales tax on food (Read more)
- Change the Legislature’s Rules (More)
- Regulate factory farms ( More…}
- Harvest our renewable energy resources ( More …)