Q&A: Kansas House Majority Leader talks medicaid expansion

(Logo by Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

Peter Loganbill, Collegian news editor: “One thing about this podcast is I try to have on as many different perspectives as I can. I’ve had someone look at me and say health care is a human right, and you disagree.”

Dan Hawkins, Kansas House majority leader: “I do. I think that we have a right to what we can pay for. Do we want to help those who truly need help? Absolutely we do, and we do that with Medicaid, with our current Medicaid system. But if you can work, and there is a system out there called the Affordable Care Act, and if you work, you can gain access to health care through the Affordable Care Act.

“So, we’re not saying you can’t have it, we’re just saying that you need to go to work. And if you can work, you need to work. And if you can’t work, you know, if you’re disabled or something, then Medicaid is there for you. We don’t want to hurt the very people who we need to help the most. And quite frankly, I believe Medicaid expansion is going to force some people out of the system, and it’s going to hurt the very people that we need to help.

“So, you know, I think people would really get tied up on the fact that I say healthcare is not a right. Well, what is a right? So, my point is if healthcare is a right, what else is a right? Is owning a Lamborghini a right? Well, I don’t think so.”

Loganbill: “Could you give a definition of what you think is a human right?”

Hawkins: “I think that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which our Constitution says, but it does it say that somebody has to give you something? No.

“You have the right to what you can work for and what you can gain personally, you don’t have the right to what somebody else, what you’re forcing somebody else to give you. There’s no right to that, and that’s what’s happening.”

Loganbill: “You made the comment that you don’t think Medicaid expansion is going to save rural healthcare. What do you mean by rural healthcare and that whole statement?”

Hawkins: “When we talk about rural healthcare, generally what we’re talking about is hospitals. In Kansas, we have 83 critical access hospitals. We have more than any other state in the nation.

“When we say that Medicaid expansion is not going to save rural healthcare, where are most of the people who are on Medicaid? Not in the rural. Most of them are where? In the urban centers.

“The economic centers is where they’re at. And so, some of these critical access hospitals may get as little as $4,000 a year from Medicaid expansion.”

“Fort Scott was a hospital that was losing $15 million a year, Medicaid expansion would have given about two million. So, if you’re losing 15 and you’re given two, do you stay in business? No.”

Interested in learning more about Dan Hawkins and what’s happening in Topeka in this Q&A? Check out the “Collegian Kultivate” podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.