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President's Perspective – Support Those Who Support Healthcare

We Care We Vote logo (July 10, 2020) – Even though we are barely into July, I'm sure I am as sick as anyone of political advertisements. They are annoying enough anyway, but it seems like this year, we have been especially inundated with negative ads tearing down the character of the various candidates. Of course, as soon as the primary is over, those same candidates will endorse their former opponents who, just days before, were portrayed as a menace to society.

With this background, it's not that surprising to see numerous Kansas legislators who are strong healthcare supporters be "post-carded" by the Americans for Prosperity group. You might be aware that AFP is a national "astro-turf" organization that has been particularly involved in Kansas elections. As opposed to a true "grassroots" organization, an astro-turf group is primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.

These "post-card" attacks don't really raise any new issues. They seem to be aimed at Republicans who supported Medicaid expansion efforts. They disparage what they call a "broken" health care system. They claim expansion would cause tax increases, as well as cuts to education and highway programs; and they repeat the incorrect accusation that expansion would support 100,000 "able-bodied" Kansans.

I could probably take up all the space in today's newsletter refuting and correcting the Medicaid expansion claims made in these attacks, but that's not really the point of this column. Suffice it to say, Kansas will likely soon be completely surrounded by Medicaid expansion states and that will have a detrimental impact on our state's citizens, healthcare providers and overall economy.

To those interested in Kansas healthcare policy, the importance of these attacks is much broader. They are not simply attacks on the issue of Medicaid expansion—they are really ambushes on Kansas legislators who have been among the most supportive of healthcare issues in Kansas. The policymakers who are the objects of these efforts have not only supported Medicaid expansion, they also have been:

  • Strong advocates for necessary changes in the provider assessment program;
  • Supported important changes in telehealth policy;
  • Strong supporters for behavioral health; and
  • Among the most prominent advocates of rural health policy in Kansas.

As we have done in the past, the Kansas Hospital Association will be pursuing educational efforts to make sure that voters understand how supportive these legislators have been of Kansas healthcare. In addition, our We Care We Vote efforts are critical here. We encourage you to use the 2020 We Care We Vote advocacy toolkit to promote the importance of electing leaders who prioritize healthy Kansas populations and healthy Kansas economies. The multimedia toolkit is customizable and available for download and includes numerous resources you can use leading up to the Kansas Primary Election on Aug. 4 and the General Election on Nov. 3.
--Tom Bell