Dr. Jim Barnett, 2006 Republican nominee for Governor and a candidate in 2018 for the nomination, took the group Governor and Dr. Jeff Colyer assigned to work on opioid abuse measures to task for not talking about Medicaid expansion as a solution.

“I think that’s part of leadership, is being able to listen to new ideas,” said Barnett. “When you start a task force and then from the beginning, you limit the task force from discussing what’s probably the most beneficial thing we could do as a state to deal with the issue, it just makes the whole task force a waste of time.”

As a doctor, Barnett sees the opioid crisis as more than a pain issue.

“A lot of the issues with opiates actually deal with not only chronic pain, but they also deal with mental health issues, as well,” said Barnett. “People who are addicted, they need help, whether that be addiction therapy or mental health care.”

Barnett believes if everyone has access to care, life will be better for all Kansans, including those with addiction issues.

“If you don’t have access to health care to deal with underlying health related issues, then you seek some other kind of remedy,” said Barnett. “That other kind of remedy isn’t necessarily healthy or appropriate, but it’s the best that people can find and a lot of people self-medicate for a variety of reasons. If we would have access to health care, then we would have a healthier population. If we’d have access to health care, we’d have more people able to work.”

A recent study from the University of Kansas shows that more disabled people work in states that have expanded Medicaid.

Nick Gosnell is the News Director for WIBW News and the Kansas Information Network. You can follow him on Twitter @NickGosnell11.

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Barnett sees Medicaid expansion as one opioid solution, takes Colyer to task for limiting scope of task force