It is past time for you, as a citizen of Kansas, to take action. The Governor has elected to move the decision regarding Medicaid Expansion to the upcoming session of the Kansas Legislature. The no cost to Kansas Medicaid Expansion providing quality health care could be made available to over 169,000 people in our state. Here are a few compelling reasons why this shouldn’t even be debated. Federal monies have already been set aside to pay for this expansion. There will be no increase to the deficit or taxes. This removes any excuses that there would be an increased cost to Kansans. What the expansion will do is cover 169,000 people who are not poor enough for current Medicaid nor qualify for the Health Care Exchange. These individuals represent the most disadvantaged among us. The Medicaid Expansion component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was never intended to be a choice, but rather an integral part of ACA. According a recent independent study requested by the Kansas Hospital Association, the Medicaid Expansion would increase state revenue, create jobs, and lower health care costs. Additionally, the study found that 75 percent of Kansans support Medicaid Expansion, which keeps Kansas tax dollars in Kansas. The current economic benefit would be $507 million annually, which is $3.55 billion between 2014 and 2020. New economic growth would see a $319 million annually or $2.24 billion from 2014 to 2020. There is an anticipated $89 million savings in lower health care costs from 2014 to 2020. There is the potential of 3,500 to 4,000 new jobs created as part of the expansion mostly in the health care sector. Without the Medicaid Expansion many struggling rural hospitals will find themselves unable to continue providing services. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs from 2014 through 2016; 95 percent - 2017, 94 percent - 2018, 93 percent - 2019, and 90 percent beginning in 2020. Kansas will never pay more than 10 percent of costs for this expansion. Currently, Kansas pays 43.5 percent of the existing Medicaid recipients. This is 40 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $7,540 for 2013. Sam Brownback doesn’t appear to care. It is time for you to contact your Kansas Legislators before the session begins in mid January and inform them of your support for Medicaid Expansion. Politics should not determine quality health care.

— Louise Smith of Hesston and Shelley Dunham of Council Grove