KHI expects the difference to be a $50 million annual expense. The Leatherman study foresees more generous savings, along with $30 million in tax revenue from the economic stimulus of pumping $900 million in federal contributions into state hospitals.
Families USA checked the Kansas studies with state-sponsored reports on expansion in Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia. Willard said states consistently discover their budgets improve after Medicaid expansion.
“The cost of the program will be covered by the savings and the additional tax revenue,” Willard said. “There is no reason for concern that expanding Medicaid is going to be a budget buster for the state of Kansas.”
Michael Cannon, a policy director at the D.C.-based Cato Institute who took part in the Kansas Legislature’s Medicaid expansion roundtable discussions in March, said Families USA was promoting a dishonest scam that escalates federal deficits. By only looking at the Kansas balance sheet, Cannon said, the analysis ignores the impact on taxpayers from across the country who shoulder the cost.
“That’s like saying pickpocketing creates economic benefits for pickpockets,” Cannon said.
When Democrats in the Kansas House passed an expansion bill this session with the help of moderate Republicans who staged a procedural coup d’etat, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders lauded their efforts. Sanders, the far-left presidential candidate, is a proponent of Medicaid for all.
In a meeting with Washburn University students in early April, Senate President Susan Wagle said she had no intention of allowing a bill endorsed by Sanders to pass.
“My personal opinion is that is an entitlement program because it is for people who qualify who are able bodied who are not working,” Wagle said.
Many of the people who would receive coverage under expansion are self-employed, don’t receive coverage from their employer or have part-time jobs.
Still, Wagle said, any bill that passes should have a Republican imprint, such as work requirements or drug testing.
“That’s the other problem — we have people on welfare, and they’re out selling drugs, and they’re subsidized by the rest of us,” Wagle said.
She also said she has had private conversations with politicians in other states who regret Medicaid expansion but can’t say so publicly.
April Holman, executive director of Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, a statewide coalition dedicated to Medicaid expansion, said it is difficult to refute a secret conversation. Holman said Hensley’s call to action should ignite a conversation.
“I hope that means there’s momentum in letting democracy happen,” Holman said. “We hope there can be a debate on the floor of the Senate. How we get to that is still a little bit of an unknown.”