A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
Week Four - February 11, 2020
“We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life--the unborn--without diminishing the value of all human life.” – Ronald Reagan 
The Facts of the Matter is a feature in The Truth Report each week, highlighting important information, some of which is not always reported or emphasized in the mainstream press:
  • The Value Them Both Amendment Does NOT Ban Abortion. Some on the left contend that the Value Them Both Amendment bans abortion. It does not. It simply returns the laws in Kansas to where they were before the extreme Hodes ruling, which threatens every pro-life law in the state ever passed.

  • All Kansans Can Vote in August. Despite the rhetoric of some, it is just as easy for Kansans to vote in August as in November. Both parties are having primaries and unaffiliated voters are able to cast ballots, as well. An August election allows the matter to be decided quickly and not get lost in the intensity of the presidential election.

  • Kansas Has 22 Years of Lifesaving Limits on Abortion. As President Susan Wagle mentioned in her speech carrying the Value Them Both Amendment, Kansas has been adopting lifesaving limits on abortion dating back to 1997. Kansans for Life has a helpful timeline on the subject, which you can view by clicking here.
News & Views is a weekly collection of relevant news items and editorials regarding what's going on in Topeka and around the State of Kansas.
State of the Union Address by President
Donald J. Trump

Key Excerpt:

Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback. Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results. Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, and our country is thriving and highly respected again.
America’s enemies are on the run, America’s fortunes are on the rise, and America’s future is blazing bright.

The years of economic decay are over. The days of our country being used, taken advantage of, and even scorned by other nations are long behind us. Gone too are the broken promises, jobless recoveries, tired platitudes, and constant excuses for the depletion of American wealth, power, and prestige.

In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline, and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We have totally rejected the downsizing. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never, ever going back. 
Truth Report Archive
Check out past Truth Reports in the Truth Report Archive by clicking here.
Transparency Center: Follow the Kansas Legislature
You can view video streaming of both chambers via the Kansas Legislature YouTube page. In addition, many committees are now audio streamed. Finally, the Kansas Legislature website remains a great resource. Here are the relevant links:

YouTube Streaming:

Spending: Ever curious about how your tax dollars are spent, particularly on items like government salaries? Then look no further than KS OpenGov, a large database of hundreds of reports at the state, city, and school district level. 

Get there by clicking here:
Value Them Both: Constitutional Amendment Falls Short in House; Fight Will Continue
The Kansas House, on Thursday, debated the Value Them Both Amendment. Rep. Susan Humphries did a tremendous job carrying the bill and several representatives gave incredible speeches in favor of the amendment. This amendment is necessary due to the recent Supreme Court ruling which “found” a right to an abortion in the Constitution. To combat the court’s decision, the most effective path is to amend the Constitution to clearly state that there is no right to an abortion, a process which requires 2/3rds of the legislature to pass and also a vote by the people of Kansas. The legislators voting against the amendment for whatever reason will give the abortion industry free reign to kill babies, including in late-term abortions and live dismemberment abortions.

Unfortunately, four Republicans joined with Democrats voting against the amendment, and it fell four votes shy of the necessary 84 votes to pass.

Some tried to explain their vote away by saying they wanted it on the November ballot. The fact of the matter is that in August, all Kansans can vote, and it will not get lost in the intensity of the presidential election. Those who care about the issue will have every chance to learn about it, vote in advance or at a polling site, and cast their ballot accordingly. The opposition to the election date is a red herring.

The fight is not over – it is still early in the session and passage of this amendment is essential. The resolve of pro-life legislators remains consistent and strong. After the vote, President Susan Wagle issued a strong statement regarding the matter, including how it relates to Medicaid Expansion.
Statement from President Susan Wagle:

This vote just completely changed the course of the 2020 legislative session. The fifteen pro-life bills I championed throughout my time in the legislature are in jeopardy. I will work with the pro-life community and will persevere to ensure its passage.

If Governor Kelly's Medicaid Expansion passes without the Value Them Both Amendment, Kansas will becoming the 17th state to implement taxpayer-funded abortions. Kansas will be like Connecticut, where 75% of all abortions in 2018 were paid for with state tax dollars. The Senate will not take up Medicaid Expansion without passage of the Value Them Both Amendment.

Even if the Amendment passes at any time this session, working Kansans should continue to stand with me and fight tirelessly against the expansion of Medicaid for able-bodied adults. Medicaid was created as a safety net for the disabled, elderly, and children; not able-bodied adults.

Margaret Thatcher once said, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money. I agree.
President Susan Wagle is correct. This is a monumental moment in our state’s history with two significant issues before our legislature at the same time. We must get both right, and we certainly should not consider passing a measure that would lead to taxpayer funded abortions while the Value Them Both Amendment hangs in the balance.

More about the “Value Them Both” effort to pass a Constitutional Amendment can be found here: The Kansas Truth Caucus has launched a resource on the VTB amendment which you can view by clicking here
Majority Leader Dan Hawkins Talks with Beverly Gossage about Health Care Issues 
Nationally renowned health care policy expert Beverly Gossage, a well-known advocate for free market health care reform, sat down with Majority Leader Dan Hawkins in a series of videos dealing with several subjects related to health policy. They are listed and linked below:

We will keep these as a consistent part of the Truth Report so you can refer to them in the future!  
Senate Taxation Holds Hearing on Truth in Taxation 
On Friday, the Senate Taxation Committee held a hearing on SB 294, Senator Caryn Tyson’s well researched legislation to close the “Truth Gap” regarding property tax. As we all know, when valuations increase, taxes increase, even if the tax rate (mill levy) remains the same.

SB 294 would require each taxing subdivision or taxing district to use the new valuations to calculate the mill levy that would generate the same tax revenue amount as the prior year. This mill levy, referred to as the certified tax rate, must be determined by July 1st of each year. The bill requires a governing body of a taxing subdivision or taxing district to notify the public and have a public vote in order to increase the mill levy in excess of the certified tax rate.

The effect of the bill would be to simply require local governments, when they’re increasing taxes, to notify the public, hold a public vote, and justify the increase in tax revenue. This transparency works, and as seen elsewhere, keeps property taxes low and forces local governments to more carefully spend taxpayers’ dollars. This is where the term “truth in taxation” comes from. 
Medicaid Expansion Testimony – A Powerful Case by Rebecca Davis
With the Kansas Legislature freezing any debate on Medicaid Expansion, it is a good time for legislators to reflect on the original purpose of Medicaid and how destructive ObamaCare’s Medicaid Expansion would be to that goal. Whether one adds work requirements or not, no matter how many “safeguards’ are attached, it is still a woefully bad idea.

To that end, before anyone considers casting a ballot for Medicaid Expansion, they should read the following e-mail, sent to the Public Health & Welfare Committee, from Rebecca Davis. It is lengthy but worth your time: 
I'm currently waiting on the Social Security Administration to make a decision on my disability case, and was on MediKan (a type of Medicaid for people who have filed for disability and are waiting on a decision), for 12 months, which is the maximum time allowed. I waited months for my MediKan application to be processed, and the only reason I finally got it was because I tracked down former governor Colyer while he was visiting Wichita and let him know how long I had been waiting for my application to be processed, and he had a staff member personally contact the application processing center to push my application through. I knew of several people from my medical support groups who had waited more than seven months and hadn't even heard if their application for Medicaid coverage had even been scanned into the system yet.

Once I was on Medicaid, only the doctor who was employed by one of the hospitals in town accepted Medicaid. My primary care doctor, who I've seen for 19 years didn't take Medicaid, nor did almost all of my specialists, of which I see more than I can count on both hands. My medical diagnoses include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Sjogren's Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, chronic migraine, occipital neuralgia, and spinal issues including herniated and bulging discs, Degenerative Disc Disease, retrolisthesis and dislocated ribs on a daily basis, etc. I take 24 prescription medications, plus several vitamins and supplements for deficiencies. With such complicated health issues, starting over with new doctors because none of my longtime doctors accepted Medicaid, would set me back years, and might even kill me. The littlest change can trigger a whole cascade of symptoms, and cause my multiple autoimmune diseases to flare. That year on MediKan, I had to pay out of pocket to see my primary care to get my medications refilled, and I used immediate care and the ER since I couldn't afford to see my specialists out of pocket. I barely survived that year, and expanding Medicaid would put me back in that horrible situation, unable to find doctors to treat me.

At one point in 2019, after my MediKan had expired, and I was on an exchange plan, I spent over three weeks with my blood pressure hovering around 60/40, which is dangerously low. I was staggering around seeing double and slurring my words. I was passed out or on the verge the majority of that time. I barely remember those three weeks. My doctors have no idea what triggered the hypotension. Their best guess was an allergic reaction triggered my POTS. A drug I'd been on successfully for a couple years suddenly had to be changed, but first they had to get my blood pressure up in a safe range to in order to have a surgery I needed, before they would attempt to try a different drug. It took several specialists working together to decide on the best course of action to prevent further hypotension crises. If I had been on Medicaid at the time, I probably would have died before I got in to see an appropriate specialist, and since I was so out of it because of my low blood pressure, I wouldn't have been able to explain my complicated medical history, which could have easily led to me being prescribed meds I'd previously had bad reactions to or that exacerbated one of my many medical conditions. A doctor that was seeing me for the first time would have been disastrous in this situation. Having a medical home and established specialists is key for treating complicated medical patients like myself.

MediKan only lasted a fraction of the time I've been waiting for a disability decision, which is 2.5 years so far. Getting off MediKan and onto a plan through the exchange meant I got to see all the doctors who know me, my medical history, and my medication regimen. Changing medication, or even adjusting a dosage can have disastrous implications, and I need doctors who are familiar with my complicated medical history calling the shots. While I was on MediKan, they limited my drug coverage, and less than half my medications were covered. I went through my savings and retirement account, and through a good chunk of my parents' retirement account to pay for the medications that weren't covered while I was on MediKan. The LAST thing I want is to be forced to go back on Medicaid. I barely survived it the first time. The best thing for my health and well being is to be on a plan through the exchange until my disability is approved and I'm eligible to go on Medicare.

Nobody chooses to go on Medicaid. They're on it because it's their only option. The over 5,000 disabled people on waiting lists for Medicaid is criminal, and you legislators are responsible. You're the only ones with the power to change the status quo, yet you've done nothing the help the most vulnerable in society. In fact, your Medicaid expansion plan would be disastrous to them.

Expanding Medicaid to able-bodied adults capable of working and obtaining medical coverage through their employer or the exchange would overload a system that already has too few doctors to see the people already on it. As long as Medicaid payments to physicians are drastically below what they receive from private insurers, there will be a shortage of physicians willing to take Medicaid patients, and adding more patients would make the wait even longer. Expanding Medicaid won't just hurt the disabled, it will also crowd out the elderly, children and pregnant women. As a former foster parent, I know how hard it is to find a pediatrician who not only accepts Medicaid, but is accepting new patients. The list of physicians accepting Medicaid is deceiving. The vast majority are not accepting new patients, because taking more than a few Medicaid patients means they won't be able to keep their office open, because they'd be losing money.

I have a Master of Health Care Leadership from Friends University, and I've worked in nursing homes, rehab hospitals, an internal medicine office, and an emergency department. I've experienced how Medicaid works from the perspective of an employee in the medical field, a patient, and a foster parent. None of what I saw and experienced was good. I met elderly people waiting for a scarce Medicaid bed to open in a nursing home. I know what it's like to fruitlessly search for a pediatrician to take my foster child who hadn't seen a doctor since they were discharged from the hospital as a newborn and have had no vaccinations. I know what it's like to lose all my doctors because none of them accepted Medicaid. Doctors aren't heartless. They have to make enough money to keep the lights on, and Medicaid doesn't pay them enough to do that. Adding more patients to an already overburdened Medicaid system will result in the deaths of society's most vulnerable.

Please focus on fixing Medicaid for the vulnerable people who have no choice but to depend on it. Increase Medicaid payments to doctors. It is the only way to get more providers to accept it. Get the disabled off the waiting list and covered. Hire more people to process Medicaid applications. Making the sickest people wait more than six months to get an application processed results in deaths. Then do away with the 12-month limit on MediKan coverage. People shouldn't have to suffer and even die while waiting for a disability decision. It makes no sense that we as a society let the sickest, those who are waiting on disability, sustain irreversible damage to their bodies while they wait on the bureaucracy to push papers. Disabled lives matter, and we deserve proper treatment. Medical coverage for able bodied adults who can easily get insurance through their employer or the exchange is the absolute last thing you should be worrying about or passing laws for. They can get off their lazy butts and work. The disabled all wish we were in their places and able to work. The disabled, elderly, children and pregnant women don't have that option. We are depending on you to improve Medicaid for those stuck on it through no fault of their own.

Please preserve (and improve) Medicaid for those who most need it and are being failed by the current bureacracy, by voting NO on Medicaid expansion. If you're still leaning towards voting yes after reading all this, I challenge you to call five people on the Medicaid waiting list, and ask them to share their experiences with you. If you're still in favor of Medicaid expansion after that, no one could resuscitate your cold, dead heart."

Rebecca Davis
Patient Advocate, Lupus Support Group Leader, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Support Group Leader