Tuesday, September 02, 2014

What choice, Kansas?

1/24/2014

As I read the article “Medical officials: Health care law ‘stifling’ industry” in Tuesday’s Herald, I felt my blood pressure starting to rise. Then I took a moment to look for more information and not just react to the story.

Bravo to those saying it is a struggle for Ransom Memorial Hospital and health care professionals in Ottawa to make ends meet.

As I read the article “Medical officials: Health care law ‘stifling’ industry” in Tuesday’s Herald, I felt my blood pressure starting to rise. Then I took a moment to look for more information and not just react to the story.

Bravo to those saying it is a struggle for Ransom Memorial Hospital and health care professionals in Ottawa to make ends meet.

Boo to those finger-pointing toward “Obamacare” and the Affordable Care Act. Why, oh, why can’t we stop blaming, and get onto the work of fixing?

In both references to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital Program and the Medicare and Medicaid Services Electronic Health Records incentives program, the difficulty has been a challenge. Not only have the incentives been decreased, but the requirements have been increased to meet the incentives.

Also in the reference to Managed Care (known in Kansas as the Medicaid program “KanCare”), the article details how outside “private” companies use stall tactics and denials to delay payments and restrict physicians’ and health care professionals’ ability to provide care to their patients.

I cannot help but stop and think the problems above do not directly come from Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, but rather come from the State of Kansas choosing not to expand Medicaid (reportedly costing an estimated $950 million in lost revenue to the state, but also costing Kansas taxpayers more money to cover the costs of this lost revenue), as well as moving the Kansas Medicaid program into the private sector (Managed Care or KanCare) in the state. Both of these choices were made by our state and its leaders, championed by Gov. Sam Brownback. Yet we want to blame Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, even though provisions were made in that act to help with compensation in these programs with the expansion of the Medicaid program.

It is tough to think our state and our leaders (U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, Brownback and others) have caused a problem that could have been avoided. Tougher yet, to sit back and watch them point the fingers at others, who were really trying to “fix” an already “broken” system.

Once again, Kansans need to reflect on the choices we have made, with the current options that are in front of us. We must work for the betterment of the system, so that all individuals, health care professionals and providers benefit from the programs in place.

— John G. White,

Ottawa

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