KanCare

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File Photo

Kansas privatized its Medicaid program in 2013, and there have been questions ever since--questions about how well KanCare is working. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, a new study may provide some answers.

Kansas officials are temporarily putting the brakes on a plan to seek reauthorization of KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Michael Randol heads the division in the Department of Health and Environment that oversees KanCare. He told legislators on Friday that changes favored by President-elect Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders could give states more flexibility in structuring their Medicaid programs.

Jim McLean

A comprehensive study of KanCare, Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program, says while it has come close to meeting cost-cutting goals, it has burdened providers and failed to significantly improve the care for the more than 400,000 low-income and disabled Kansans it covers.

The study was done for several Kansas provider organization by a consulting firm run by former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

KHI News Service

Medicaid expansion advocates in Kansas say they’ll move forward with legislation despite national election results that signal a repeal of Obamacare.

But they are a lot less optimistic about their chances than they were before last week.

“There is still significant support in Kansas for expanding KanCare both in the public and among legislators,” said David Jordan, director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, a nonprofit advocacy group formed to push for the expansion of KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Jasleen Kaur, flickr Creative Commons

Campaign finance reports out this week show that Kansas health care organizations are putting their checkbooks behind the Medicaid expansion effort.

In previous elections the Kansas Hospital Association’s political action committee distributed contributions pretty evenly, giving to candidates regardless of party or ideology.

Not this year.

Abigail Beckman

Candidates for Kansas' District 27 Senate seat met for a forum Tuesday night in Colwich. District 27 includes northwest Wichita, Andale, Colwich and much of rural Sedgwick County between Goddard and Maize.

In the upcoming general election, Democrat Tony Hunter, a first-time candidate, faces Republican Gene Suellentrop, a former member of the House of Representatives. Among other topics, the candidates discussed their widely differing views on Medicaid expansion, a move that Suellentrop says has led to people "coming out of the woodwork" to enroll in the program.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

A coalition of Kansas health care providers, business organizations and local governments is stepping up its lobbying campaign for Medicaid expansion.

Just this week the coalition has staged media conferences in Wichita and Manhattan to push for the expansion of KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

In Manhattan, business leaders made the economic case for expansion. Kristin Brighton chairs the board of the area chamber of commerce.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

A group of community and health leaders held a press conference Wednesday in Wichita to push for lawmakers to expand Kansas’ Medicaid system.

Many of the organizations participating in the meeting, which was hosted by Via Christi Health and held at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in downtown Wichita, have already come out in support of expanding KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid system. Now, they say they need Kansas lawmakers to put the issue on the agenda for the 2017 legislative session.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A task force charged with addressing the problems of health care delivery in rural Kansas met for nearly five hours in Salina yesterday. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson reports, they still haven’t settled on a direction.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

In the face of growing criticism from health care providers, Gov. Sam Brownback says he wants to restore Medicaid cuts made in July to help balance the state budget. But the governor says he wants to raise a tax imposed on hospitals to do it.

Brownback says when lawmakers return to Topeka in January he will ask them to raise the hospital tax to generate the money needed to restore $56 million in cuts to KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

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