It was sad and frustrating – but not surprising – that Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed a bill to expand Medicaid in Kansas. It has been clear for some time that Brownback doesn’t want 150,000 low-income Kansans, most of whom are working, to qualify for Medicaid – even though the plan is projected to be revenue neutral.
What was particularly insulting, however, was how Brownback used disabled Kansans as an excuse for his veto, complaining that the bill “does not prioritize the vulnerable.” Disabled advocacy groups and service providers support expansion and resent Brownback using the disabled as political pawns – especially when he prioritized tax cuts before eliminating waiting lists for services.
Brownback also cynically tried to link expansion to abortion, which Rep. Susan Concannon, R-Beloit, described as “out of left field.”
Hospitals support expansion. So do safety-net clinics. So do dozens of health groups and associations, including medical societies and the Kansas AARP. So do chambers of commerce throughout the state. So do 82 percent of Kansans, according to a recent poll.
The question now is whether enough state lawmakers support these groups and the clear will of the public to override Brownback’s veto. Whose side are they on?