Stan Bohn and Marc Rhoades recently clashed on the editorial pages of the Newton Kansan on the issue of Medicaid Expansion. Kansas is one of nineteen states that has chosen to turn down federal funds to expand Medicaid. The decision has cost the state millions of dollars and deprived poor people of financial aid. Last year when Mercy Hospital in Independence closed down, they cited the refusal to expand Medicaid as one of the reasons for closure. The Kansas Hospital Association and other agencies are working to change Kansas’ policy.
Rhoades grew up in the Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton where his parents are still members. He is a member of the Kansas legislature and defines himself as a “Reagan Republican.” He opposes growth of government at any level, state or federal. He supports home schooling and private education.
Bohn is a retired Mennonite pastor now living at Kidron Bethel retirement community in North Newton. Throughout his career as pastor (Kansas City, Bluffton, Newton) and as GCMC official, he has been an active advocate in behalf of the poor and oppressed. He has spoken out against racism, the Vietnam War and the death penalty. He currently works with the Newton Area Peace Center, the victim-offender reconciliation program, and the M-2 prisoner visitation program. In the Circles of Hope program he is an ally of low income people who need help to get out of poverty.
In the Jan 8, 2016 issue of the Kansan, Rhoades had a lengthy ten-point argument opposing Medicaid expansion. He said there are other ways to lower health care costs for the poor, and warned that Kansas in coming years would have to pay an increasing portion as the federal government ratchets back its payments. His main point was that Medicaid expansion is a step toward single-payer government-run health care.
One week later, in the Jan 15 issue of the Kansan, Bohn argued that a single payer system would not be bad. He said that it would be beneficial if a single payer competed with health insurance companies to lower health care costs. He noted the British pay one third as much as the U.S. for medical care and cover more of their population. He suggested that Rhoades’ case was undermined by his status as a legislative recipient of taxpayer-funded health care. Further discussion, Bohn wrote, would reveal why Kansas hospitals, the medical community and chambers of commerce favor expanding Medicaid in the state.
Stan Bohn has a big stack of letters to newspaper editors that he has written over the years. Like the host of similar Mennonite letter writers he has made a significant contribution in applying Anabaptist-Mennonite values to the public order.