One rural hospital expresses disappointment in state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion


WELLINGTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Lawmakers in Topeka fell just three votes short of reversing the governor’s veto on expanding Medicaid.

Had they been successful, Les Dean, the CEO of Sumner Regional Medical Center in Wellington, says it could have brought in some much-needed money for the facility.

“For us, it’s over three-quarters of a million dollars a year and we are all in a fight for our own survival at this point,” said Dean.

Dean says a meeting was held Friday with area legislators, hoping to get them to sway their vote in favor of the veto override.

“After some spirited conversation about what that means about saving lives and certainly what it means for hospitals in communities like this, it felt like it just fell on deaf ears,” said Dean.

Wellington Mayor Shelley Hansel says she wasn’t surprised the Governor Sam Brownback’s veto wasn’t reversed, but says she is disappointed.

KSN asked Hansel, what is next for the hospital.

“Right now, we have a task force that is forming, and it’s going to include people, such as our fire chief who handles our EMS services, our city manager who has seen the financials the city has given the hospital over the years,” said Hansel.

Hansel says the hope is to find out what residents do and don’t value in the hospital.

“We’ve got to get better at doing the things we do well that makes money for the hospital and letting go of the things that are not making money,” said Hansel.

Without the expansion of Medicaid, the fear of having to close the hospital’s doors, in the not so distant future, is real.

“I think that is a possibility here, and I don’t think we are the only hospital in the region or in the state that faces the same possibility,” said Dean.

After Tuesday’s vote, Governor Brownback released a statement saying:

“The House served their constituents well today. While Congress and the president continue to discuss the future of health care, not expanding Obamacare is the right choice for Kansas,” said Brownback.

Kansas is one of just 19 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid.

In the 31 states and Washington D.C. that have expanded coverage, more than 11 million Americans have gained medical insurance.

A poll conducted by the American Cancer Society in December, found that 82 percent of Kansans are in favor of Medicaid expansion.

Many lawmakers say they aren’t opposed to expanding medical coverage in the state, as long as, it doesn’t cost the state more money.

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