Opinion: Sam Brownback Vetoes Republican Medicaid Expansion Legislation

No sane human being is surprised any longer at learning there is another Republican atrocity being committed on purely ideological grounds founded on inhumanity for inhumanity’s sake. There was a time not long ago that, although Republicans are draconian by nature, at least they attempted to justify their savagery towards other Americans on phony economic reasons; even when there was no real economic impact as a basis whatsoever. That has been the case for an inordinately large number of Republican-led states that refused to expand Medicaid coverage they claimed was too costly for their failed states. Remember, one of the benefits of expanding Medicaid was it cost states absolutely nothing for the first two years after which the total contributions of the states would be at most a minuscule ten percent of the total cost thereafter.

Early this week, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback came up with a particularly hateful reason to reject Medicaid expansion that would cover at least 150,000 Kansas residents, at no cost to Kansas. And he used that barbaric reason as the justification to veto the Republican-dominated legislature’s recent effort to expand Medicaid, save countless rural hospitals from closure, and preserve the jobs they create.

It is noteworthy to mention that the slightly less barbaric Republican legislature recently elected nearly garnered enough support to override Brownback’s veto because Republicans and Democrats alike see the devastation of failing to embrace relatively free Medicaid expansion. It is devastation that Brownback fully supports because one way or the other, he wants to continue wreaking economic damage on the state and keep the poor sick and unable to access healthcare services.

Brownback hates the idea of helping the people that aren’t quite poor enough to get subsidized assistance to go to the doctor. His reason for vetoing the expansion was that the legislature failed to include a. “work requirement for Medicaid beneficiaries.” Brownback also said the cost was “irresponsible and unsustainable.” Brownback actually said that despite the cost of providing tax cuts for the rich and corporations is incredibly irresponsible, unsustainable and is sending the Kansas economy deeper into a massive sinkhole of debt, job losses, and credit downgrades.

Brownback believes that despite the federal government has never allowed states to require that people have jobs to qualify for Medicaid benefits, the GOP movement demanding changes is what is he says is really needed to deny millions of Americans healthcare coverage. He supports not only work requirements for the poor that likely already work at slave-wage jobs, he hotly embraces imposing costly premiums and lifetime limits on Medicaid benefits; anything to deny poor Americans medical care.

Always willing to use “the fetus” as a reason to punish other Americans, Brownback also “denounced the expansion legislation” he said facilitates more abortions despite the federal prohibition on using federal money for pregnancy termination. He said, “From its infancy, the state of Kansas has affirmed the dignity and equality of each human life. I will not support legislation that undermines a culture of life.

Instead, he vetoed legislation that actually supports the health and well-being of already existing “real human” lives. According to the Christian bible Brownback he touts as his driving force to protect “human life,” a fetus is not a living being until it draws a breath of its own accord after it exits the womb.

Brownback also lied and claimed the criticism that failing to expand Medicaid would close down desperately needed rural hospitals, kill jobs and force over 150,OOO Kansans to stay sick was overstated; even when his own Republican legislature complained.

The expansion’s supporters, Democrats, and Republicans alike, argued unsuccessfully that taking advantage of the expansion will save lives and jobs; Brownback was unmoved. One Democrat from Olathe, Representative Cindy Holscher appealed to her colleagues and said:

We have the ability to help people who truly need it the most. We have the ability to make a decision today that will save lives — not just one, but potentially thousands.”

A Republican representative and leading proponent of the expansion from Beloit, Susan Concannon said, “What we know most of all is that if we do this, it will prevent closures of hospitals.”

It is noteworthy that in a recent survey of Kansas voters funded by the American Cancer Society, a humanitarian organization that backs expansion found that 82 percent of Kansas residents were in favor of expanding Medicaid and accepting the funding from Washington. That 82 percent likely is aware that at least 11 million Americans earning poverty wages have already benefitted from having access to medical care in the states that embraced expansion.

For the time being, Kansas is part of the cruel cabal of Republican states, 19 altogether, that have rejected expanded Medicaid leaving millions of low-income Americans “stuck in a ‘coverage gap’” earning too much for Medicaid under GOP-dominated states’ cruel guidelines, but too little to qualify for the subsidized coverage through the Affordable Care Acts’ marketplaces.

The Executive Director of Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, an advocacy organization formed last year in support of expansion, David Jordan said his group of supporters were not ready to give up on helping poor Kansas residents get the medical care they need. Mr. Jordan stated the obvious about Brownback’s savagery in vetoing a rare bipartisan effort in Kansas’ Republican majority legislature.

The problem of 150,000 Kansans not having access to health care doesn’t go away.”

Neither does the very real problem that the loss of rural hospitals, and the accompanying jobs, is not going away. Something that doesn’t bother Sam Brownback who, for an alleged “pro-life” zealot, has no problem endangering over 150,000 low-income Kansas residents because they, unlike “the fetus,” are real living beings.


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