This is the mistake being made by our elected lawmakers from Cowley County when it comes to Medicaid expansion.
Reps. Cheryl Helmer, Rep. Bill Rhiley and Sen. Larry Alley oppose Medicaid expansion even though it would help hospitals in their districts. Alley says he has not made up his mind completely yet.
Medicaid expansion is viewed by their Republican party as part of Obamacare, which it is. The party opposes Obamacare, so it opposes Medicaid expansion.
But Medicaid expansion, which is now a reality in 37 states, would bring more that $1 million a year each to hospitals in Arkansas City, Wellington and Winfield. Those local hospitals serve thousands of individuals who might otherwise have to go to Wichita or Ponca City for acute care.
The hospitals in Arkansas City and Wellington have had financial struggles. Any help would be welcomed by them. It is not good representation by Helmer, Rhiley or Alley to oppose Medicaid expansion that would give hospitals in their districts a better chance to survive.
To do so because leaders of their party oppose it is the worst of reasons.
The lawmakers raise arguments of cost. It will be too expensive (even though the federal government pay 90 percent). Other state programs will suffer. Taxpayers will suffer.
But federal funds are taxpayer dollars, too. They are being used to bring Medicaid to millions of uninsured Americans from Alaska to Arkansas. That’s what taxpayer dollars are for when taxpayers want to help those who need help the most. This is part of the generous spirit of Americans.
Just not, so far, in Kansas.
Our elected lawmakers should not forget the people who elected them. They should recognize that the fate of those hospitals is a matter of the utmost importance to their constituents. They should have the courage to think for themselves, and not let their party leaders do their thinking for them.
They should put people before party. They should support Medicaid expansion.