By The Iola Register, Feb. 3
Today’s politicians profess to practice bipartisanship; reaching across the aisle to compromise.
But a recent gesture from Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger probably wasn’t what Gov. Sam Brownback had in mind.
Last week Praeger joined a bipartisan group called “Reroute the Roadmap” in an effort to unseat Brownback. The “reroute” is in reference to Brownback’s “Roadmap for Kansas,” 2010 campaign theme.
Also defecting — though probably for just this upcoming election —from the Republican ranks are Rochelle Chronister, Neodesha, who served as assistant majority leader in the House as well as chair of the Kansas Republican Party, and former U.S. Sen. Sheila Frahm of Colby.
Democrats Jill Docking, running mate of Rep. Paul Davis, who is likely to be Brownback’s Democratic challenger; Joan Wagnon, a former revenue secretary; and State Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka, are the other members of the gang of six.
The women contend Brownback’s refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility, his intransigence to adequately fund education and his goal to eliminate the state income tax all jeopardize the future of Kansas.
Rural hospitals, especially, will face difficult times if Medicaid eligibility is not expanded, Chronister said, pointing out the recent eliminations of 29 jobs at Mercy hospitals in Fort Scott and Independence.
Caring for the indigent is a big expense for hospitals. Where before the federal government reimbursed hospitals for those costs, the new health care law shifts that responsibility to the Medicaid program with the understanding states would broaden the income guidelines.
If Kansas continues not to participate in an expanded Medicaid program, hospitals will have to pick up the bill for caring for the uninsured. For Allen County Regional Hospital, that’s in excess of $1 million.
Praeger’s defection is not an outright vote for Davis. A lifelong Republican, the Lawrence native has been in state politics since 1990 when she first served in the Kansas House and in 1992 was elected to the Kansas Senate, where she served three terms before being elected insurance commissioner in 2002.
Nearing 70, Praeger has announced this is her last year in state government, which no doubt gives her more freedom to speak her mind as a Republican who’s not in line with the governor’s direction.
When those of the same ilk believe they are being led astray, it would seem to be noteworthy.