You don’t have to go around the block too many times to figure out when some company says it’s announcing a “rate adjustment” that you – the customer – are going to be paying more. It may be buried in the fine print, but it’s there.
The same goes for a term Governor Laura Kelly and some Republicans In Name Only (RINOs) in the Kansas Legislature are hoping you’ll warm up to next year called “Medicaid Expansion.” They’re going to be selling it to you and to your state senators and representatives really hard come the new session of the legislature in January, and hoping you don’t read the fine print.
If you’ve read up on the “expansion” you probably already have it pegged. If you’re in favor of it, you’re probably also in favor of Bernie Sanders’ free college for everyone and free health care for illegal immigrants and all kinds of other free stuff that “somebody else” will pay for.
If you’re against it, you probably think adding 130,000 able-bodied people who presently make too much money to qualify to the list of people who get free health benefits seems unwarranted, and you’ve probably figured out the $50 million it’s going to cost the state in the first year is going to come at least to some extent out of your pocket.
What you probably have not seen in that small print is a reminder of what Governor Kelly has already taken from you if you’re a worker or a small business person, or if you own a corporation that pays taxes in Kansas.
For starters, Governor Kelly decided she and state government were entitled to a nice tax refund you were supposed to get when President Trump cut your federal income tax in 2018. That means $190 million of our hard-earned dollars should have been refunded to us from the state which we could have used to buy a car or remodel our kitchen or pay tuition or go to McDonalds. But, Governor Kelly opted to keep it.
Then Kelly approved a 9 percent hike in state spending for 2019, and vetoed a bill that would have reduced our taxes even though the state is churning in millions of dollars in revenues above budget estimates – courtesy of the largest tax increase in state history legislators approved in 2017. Then to lower the heat from the Kansas Supreme Court, Kelly and legislators increased school spending $500 million in 2018 and added another $90 million in icing for the educational cake last spring.
So if you’re concerned about another $50 million in state spending to add able-bodied people to Medicaid, who can blame you?
Another issue in the small print of Medicaid Expansion is for the deserving people already on it. Will the new money from the federal government and that $50 million from Kansas be enough to cover 130,000 new people as well as those who already qualify? Other states that expanded Medicaid found an extra 50 to 100 percent more new enrollees than their initial estimates. That means Kansas could be adding 260,000 to 300,000 new recipients at a cost of a billion dollars per year, and $100 million in extra cost to Kansas tax payers.
Maybe “someone else” will pay those costs so we can have it all for free? Then again, maybe not.
Kelly and those legislators need to focus on job growth and strengthening the state’s economy so Kansas workers can provide for themselves and their families, instead of adding new people to the public dole. Kansans have paid enough extra tax bills lately. That’s a message no fine print can hide.
– Dane Hicks is the publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.