Medicaid misinformation derails its purpose to help the underserved

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Columnists

May 16, 2022 - 4:02 PM

Photo by KEN HERMAN/AMERICAN-STATESMAN/FILE

While a few serious issues continue to be debated in committee and the courts, basically the 2022 legislative session is a wrap. And once again, Medicaid expansion didn’t pass.

True, the legislature agreed upon an expansion of the postpartum health coverage offered under KanCare to new mothers, which is an important step. But the broader expansion of Medicaid, the one embraced by 38 states (including every state that borders Kansas), the one supported by nearly 80% of Kansas voters, is still firmly opposed by a majority of the Republicans those voters sent to Topeka. Why this is the case remains puzzling. One reason may be the misinformation about Medicaid expansion frequently spread by Republican leaders — often intentionally, but also sometimes due to their own confusion.

The traditional conservative line against expanding Medicaid coverage to people who have no medical insurance through their low-paying jobs and cannot afford private insurance, but still aren’t poor enough to meet KanCare’s strict requirements, is that doing so would increase the number of “able-bodied” people receiving government assistance, and that’s bad. That position can be argued with, of course, but at least it reflects an ideological position familiar to Kansans. 

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