Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Panel promotes the ACA (Obamacare) and expanding Medicaid

By SJ Otto
Defending the ACA (Affordable Care Act/ Obamacare) and promoting Medicaid expansion was the message made loud and clear at an ICT Health Panel discussion put on by KMUW at the Reverie Coffee Roasters. Engage ICT is a new initiative from KMUW Wichita Public Radio aimed at increasing awareness of issues and encouraging civic engagement. More than  people attended the event.
“The ACA is a stunning success,” said Sheldon Weisgrau, Director of Health Reform Resource Project. “That is not to say it doesn’t have problems. Despite all the rhetoric healthcare coverage is at an all-time high.”
Others on the panel included:

-Dr. Ed Flentje, Professor Emeritus, Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs
-David Gear, Executive Director of Guadalupe Clinic
-Teresa Lovelady, President and CEO of HealthCore Clinic

“We all benefit from Medicaid expansion,” Lovelady said.
She said there are about 150,000 Kansans in what the panelist called the “donut hole.” Those are the people who don’t make enough to benefit from the health care exchanges, but they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, or KanCare as the new privatized system is now called.
Weisgrau pointed out that a mom who works ½-time at minimum wage makes too much money for Medicaid. Single people without kids can't get Medicaid at all.
Some other points made during the discussion are that 4,000 new jobs would be created, if Medicaid is expanded.
Weisgrau said the Federal government matches what Kansas spends by 90 percent and that is money that is already collected. No money is being saved by sending it back.
“It is a small investment for a large amount of money” he said.
“Not sending the federal tax money back could have saved some rural hospitals- at least in the short run.”
He pointed out that dozens of rural hospitals are in trouble because they won't expand Medicaid. He added that it is ridiculous to worry about the future cost of expanding Medicaid.
Lovelady said about 16 to 18 babies won't make it to their first birthday, here in Kansas.
“We need premedical care for children,” She added.
Other observations made by the panel include the news that three people were removed from the health care committee, in the Kansas Legislature for wanting to expand Medicaid. Our Governor doesn’t want to bother with opposition to his policies.
There has recently been a ban for life for anyone on Medicaid who needs treatment for Hepatitis C, and is caught drinking alcohol.

All the panelists said it is important to vote in the next election. That is the one thing they all stressed and that is we need a regime change.

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