Reroute the Roadmap has received several emails from readers concerned about the actions the Kansas Legislature took that could affect the Medicare payments so many Seniors depend upon. Larry Weigel of Manhattan, "The Medicare Coach", wrote the following letter to his clients on June 10, 2014. Larry has 25 years' experience in the financial services industry and started a national Medicare fee based consulting service in 2009 to help seniors understand the Medicare maze and help them see how politicians often use Medicare as a political tool to sway voters. He is actively campaigning against the Health Care Compact recently passed by the Kansas legislature. (edited for length) -J.Wagnon
Medicare has become a political issue in the upcoming Kansas elections. Some candidates are using it as a tool to distort the truth and I suspect it will get even worse this fall.
Our Kansas legislature passed a bill which was signed by Governor Brownback to remove Kansas from the Federal Medicare system in spite of strong objections from Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger. This unwise move has put more than 448,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Kansas at risk.
Some believe it won't happen unless Congress approves. But already, Congressman Tim Huelskamp has co-sponsored a bill in the House of Representatives to make it happen.
As your Medicare coach, I have tried to remain neutral on political matters but when the Governor signed the Health Compact bill into law, this action put me over the edge. I can no longer remain silent because I believe moving Medicare under the control of the Governor and legislature would be a disaster for all of us.
Why? Because Kansas is going broke. How could any legislator in Kansas believe the state could take on Medicare when we already face a $310 million shortfall in revenue for FY14?
Since Kansas must balance its budget by law, rainy day funds will need to be used to cover the loss. There is $690 million dollars in the reserve fund, but it will soon drop to $380 million. Revenues for FY15 show another $300 million shortfall, which would then leave only $80 million in reserves at this time next year.
I attended a legislative meeting last night and received the numbers prepared by the Legislature's nonpartisan research group, and there are big problems ahead. The state will collect $3.7 billion less as a result of the 2012 and 2013 tax cuts by Governor Brownback.
To make revenue matters worse, the 2012 top tax rate dropped from 6.45 to 4.9 in 2013, then all the way down to 3.9 by 2018. The bottom rate will drop from 3.5 in 2012 down to 2.3 by 2018.
Governor Brownback is attempting an experiment not to tax business owners including sole proprietors, Partnerships, S-Corps. None of these groups paid any Kansas income tax in 2013. That would include doctors, accountants, engineers; dentists and other professionals who have pass through income. The idea was to give tax breaks to add jobs, but as one dentist said in the meeting last night, "You don't create jobs and add new people because of tax breaks, you add people if your business grows."
Now let's look at the options ahead. Revenue receipts for FY15 are projected to be $5.917 billion. Here's where the money goes: 62.2% for Education, 26.6% for Human Services, 6.4% Public safety, 4.3% General government, 0.3% transportation, and 0.3% Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Without additional revenues, cuts will be needed. Guess where those cuts will come from? Education and Human Services. I would have great concerns if I worked in either of these two areas.
The Federal Government provides $5.33 billion in federal spending just for Kansas, for Medicare and Medicaid alone and additional millions in Federal dollars for programs like Veterans Administration, Federal employees, public health, Indian Health services and research for CDC and NIH. (information verified by: (The Kansas Health Institute from the 2009 Health Expenditure Survey prepared by CMS)
Why would Kansas want to separate Medicare from the Federal government when the Federal government provides more revenue to Kansas than the entire state budget? We are going broke as a state and Congressman Huelskamp is leading the parade to move Kansas away from our Federal government. Go figure.
—Larry Weigel The Medicare Coach
Nearly 182,000 Kansans...
...in the 'Eligibility Gap'