Posted on | March 31, 2017 | 2 Comments
Dr. Barbara Bollier
“I’m about health-care’d out.” Those are the words of Sen. Pat Roberts (R.,Kan.)
One can understand his exhaustion. After all, seven years of relentless opposition to the ACA have ended in defeat. The leader, Mitch McConnell, of this effort acknowledged as much last week when he said “It’s pretty obvious we were not able in the House to pass a replacement.” Add to this the ongoing fight in Se. Robert’s own state, where Gov. Sam Brownback has apparently decided that he will be the last man standing when it comes to opposing the ACA in the state of Kansas.
In the federal battle, Republicans have made ample use of two conservative orthopedic surgeons, Tom Price and John Barrasso to attest to the “patient-centeredness” of dismantling a program that has provided or improved the quality of health insurance coverage for 30 million Americans. They have been able to make their appeals with a straight face attesting to their full conversion from physicians to politicians.
No such conversion appears to have seized the hippocratic core of former anaesthesiologist, State Sen. Barbara Bollier (R). Last year, in support of her rural poor uninsured patients of eastern Kansas. After a year of campaigning, she finally gained support for a vote to expand Medicaid under the ACA. She was understandably excited stating, “I am just elated that we’re now at the point that we can debate this bill.”
She was not alone. The Kansas Hospital Association had been a vocal supporter as had the health care organization collaborative, Healthy Kansas, which pegged the job loss title of the Governor’s obstinance at 4000. Polls also indicated that 82% of Kansans supported the ACA Medicaid expansion. State Sen. Laura Kelly cited the 2015 closure of Mercy Hospital in Independence, Kansas as a seminal event labelling the institution “a significant rural hospital.”
A wide range of Kansas legislators agreed. Specifically 81 members of the House and 25 members of the state Senate voted this week for Medicaid expansion. Brownback was unimpressed, vetoing the Bill, saying, ““It fails to serve the truly vulnerable before the able-bodied, lacks work requirements to help able-bodied Kansans escape poverty, and burdens the state budget with unrestrainable entitlement costs.” And with that, 150,000 eligible adults remain uncovered in Kansas.
The Kansas legislature may have had just about enough of their governor. Their roads are falling apart and their credit rating is dropping like a rock, while tax breaks for the rich have hit record highs.
So it’s not surprising that this may be Brownback’s Waterloo. Republican state senator John Doll is in favor of pursuing a 2/3 majority vote to overturn the Governor’s veto. “It’s something we need to do,” he simply says. And they are only 2 votes shy in the Kansas Senate and 3 votes shy in the Kansas House. Signaling their seriousness, the Kansas legislature is in session this weekend.