Shonda Werry: Sign health care compact

04/18/2014 12:00 AM

04/17/2014 5:30 PM

The Eagle editorial board called on senior citizens to “rise up and demand that Gov. Sam Brownback veto” the health care compact (April 9 Eagle Editorial). But senior citizens are catching on to the reality of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on them. Let’s start with the facts:

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare reduces Medicare spending by $716 billion over 10 years. While there is no change to benefits, basic economics tells us what happens when you require the same services for less cost: Quantity falls, meaning fewer doctors, longer waits and less access to care.

In Kansas, home health care providers expect $400 million in reduced payments over the next four years. Providers describe those cuts as “devastating.”

Medicare reimbursement to physicians will drop below Medicaid in the coming years. According to the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, doctors were paid about 40 percent more for Medicare than Medicaid in 2010. By 2020, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement will be about equal, and by 2040 Medicare will pay about 25 percent less than Medicaid.

In short, under Obamacare, Medicare is being transformed into Medicaid, a system that is infamous for long waits, poor service and limited access. It is Obamacare that ends Medicare as we know it.

Kansas legislators are positioning themselves to protect Kansas seniors from the coming train wreck. The health care compact is a promising way to provide that protection. Freed from rules written by Washington, D.C., future Kansas legislatures will be far more responsive to seniors’ needs than federal bureaucrats, most of whom have never even been to Kansas.

Of course, you wouldn’t know this from the outcry coming from AARP and its fellow travelers. But as with so many special interests, they will do anything it takes to protect their golden goose. And their outrage makes it clear that the health care compact is a real threat to that goose.

So Kansas seniors should not be fooled. They should support the health care compact, and encourage the Legislature and Brownback to bring health care money and authority to Kansas, closer to home, where their voices will be heard over the Beltway special interests.

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