by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — This week the future existence of Sumner Regional Medical Center in Wellington could hang in the balance. The Kansas House of Representatives will gather on the house floor to vote, possibly as early as Monday, whether or not to override Governor Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill that expands coverage of KanCare.
The vote has significant local interest in that the hospital in Wellington could generate $750,000 a year annually with Medicaid expansion.
“That’s a significant chunk of change,” said Terry Deschaine, SRMC board member. “That will allow the hospital to be properly reimbursed for much of the care we provide to patients, who can’t afford it. “
But there’s are linchpins to this scenario. Both 32nd District Representative Kyle Hoffman and State Senator Larry Alley voted against the bill that would eventually pass through both chambers of the Kansas Legislature. Now in order to save the bill, it must require a 2/3’s majority to override the veto. Currently, the house is three votes shy in the House and two votes shy in the Senate.
In other words, five legislators minds need to be swayed before the veto vote takes place. Health care advocates are hoping they can sway lawmakers over this weekend. Local health officials and civic leaders took it a step further.
Friday afternoon, a collection of 17 civic leaders from Sumner and Cowley County congregated in the office of physician Faustino Naldoza, who has since retired, to have what amounted to be a “come-to-Jesus” talk with Alley over the dire financial straits of the hospital and the desire to get this bill passed. The collective message was: without this bill’s passage, this hospital could very well close.