By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — A Reno County state representative wants to remind his constituents that, in light of the Medicaid expansion proposal from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, there's no such thing as a free lunch.
"This is basically an $800 million to $1 billion program," said State Rep. Paul Waggoner. "This would be the biggest addition to state government, I mean, in literally years. You're going to have a real expansion, of just the scope of government. The breadth of this is really pretty hard to understate."
Hutchinson Regional Medical Center is in Waggoner's district, but, even though it may help them, Waggoner is still not sure it's the right thing to do.
"Their opinion is very important," Waggoner said. "Ultimately, you have 24,000 taxpayers in your district. That's the ones who actually put you in office and the ones who are actually paying the bill."
Though as many as 150,000 Kansans could join the program if it is passed, many of those people already are covered somehow.
"A lot of the people who would sign up are people who already have health insurance currently," said Waggoner. "People have to remember that. You're taking a good chunk of people from the private market and putting them on a government program. It's only 54,000 people, all adults who would be currently uninsured, who aren't actually eligible for Medicaid currently, who would become a part of the program."
The likelihood is that people would switch from private insurance to Medicaid if it were less expensive for them. The current program already covers children and pregnant women.