Commentary: Brownback, Kansas GOP distorting health care reform facts

The recent denouncement of “Obamacare” by Kansas GOP candidates Sam Brownback, Jeff Colyer and Derek Schmidt is no surprise.

Brownback, who is running for governor, opposed health care reform efforts as a U.S. senator. His running mate, Colyer, was vocal in his opposition as a state senator.

Schmidt, a Kansas senator, is locked in a tight race with Democrat Steve Six for state attorney general. Schmidt needs to set himself apart from the capable incumbent, and pledging to have Kansas join other states in a lawsuit opposing the Affordable Care Act is as good a way as any.

But in their efforts to inject the health care reform fight into Kansas politics, the Republicans are feeding the public misleading and incomplete information.

Example: The “Obama health care plan” would cost Kansas between $160 million and $260 million in new Medicaid costs, Brownback said, which would “threaten funding for all other state priorities.”

The senator’s source for this information is a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which does project that Kansas’ share of Medicaid coverage will increase under the new income thresholds in the Affordable Care Act.

But the same report points out that 90,000 to 131,000 uninsured Kansans will gain coverage under the new Medicaid limits. Also, Kansas is expected to receive $3.5 billion to $4 billion in new federal funding.

Brownback and his team must have missed the part of the report, which notes in bold type: “Increases in state spending are small relative to what states would have spent if reform had not been enacted.”

Likewise, Brownback contends that about 1 million Kansas households earning less than $200,000 annually will pay higher taxes.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.kansascity.com.