Despite evidence that Medicaid works, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vetoes expansion – Los Angeles Times

Republicans in Congress and statehouses across the country harbor an antipathy to Medicaid that is impossible to explain, except as hostility to the poor families that are its chief beneficiaries.

Sam Brownback, the GOP governor of Kansas, translated ideology into action on Thursday when he vetoed a bill that would have made Kansas the 32nd state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The measure would have brought health coverage to as many as 180,000 of his state’s residents, with the federal government picking up 95% of the tab this year. Yet in his veto message Brownback called the expansion an “irresponsible” budget-buster.

That’s not the only flaw in Brownback’s statement. He calls Medicaid a “welfare” program, which isn’t true, and alludes to “restarted negotiations” in Washington, D.C., to repeal the ACA, which already have broken down. He gripes that the expansion bill passed by the Kansas legislature doesn’t cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, which of course is a Republican blind spot that no medical treatment can probably cure. He also took a coded swipe increasingly heard from the GOP by identifying the expansion beneficiaries as the “able-bodied.” More on that in a moment.

First, let’s examine some of the other common right-wing slams of Medicaid. One often heard from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is that Medicaid patients can’t find doctors to treat them. “One out of every three physicians in this nation aren’t seeing Medicaid patients,” Price said recently; Ryan’s version, uttered during a press conference earlier this month but repeated endlessly, is that “more and more doctors just don’t take Medicaid….That is a huge, growing problem with Medicaid.”


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