Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kansans support use of federal funds to expand Medicaid, poll says

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA, KAN. — Kansans strongly support accepting federal funds to broaden access to Medicaid, according to a poll released Wednesday.

But the proposal, which would make Medicaid coverage available to tens of thousands of low-income Kansans, is going nowhere in the Kansas Legislature.

Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Sam Brownback have rejected expanding Medicaid because it is tied to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare.

"Obamacare is fundamentally flawed and the disastrous rollout is just another indicator of the problems we will continue to see," Brownback said.

Under the ACA, federal funds would pay 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid for three years, and no less than 90 percent after that.

The poll commissioned by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said that 72 percent of Kansans support taking those federal funds while 24 percent opposed taking them.

That support crosses party lines with 59 percent of Republicans in favor, 75 percent of independents and 92 percent of Democrats.

"Kansas has an opportunity to provide thousands of currently uninsured people with life-saving health coverage through the expansion of KanCare and public sentiment is decidedly in favor of using available federal dollars to pay for it," said Reagan Cussimanio, Kansas government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, which is the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society.

The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and surveyed 500 likely voters on December 16-18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percent.

In a related matter, Lori Lawrence, of MoveOn, who has put together an online petition to expand Medicaid, was contacted by Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer for a copy of that petition. Lawrence said that may be a sign that Medicaid expansion was gaining some attention.

But Brownback's office said Lawrence had earlier dropped off a paper copy of the petition and wanted an electronic copy for ease of storage.