Medicaid expansion

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says approximately 34,000 Kansans could get treatment for mental illness or substance abuse disorders if the state would agree to expand its Medicaid program, known as KanCare.

Amy Campbell is a lobbyist for the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, which represents a wide range of Kansans with an interest in mental health. She thinks coverage through KanCare might help relieve some of the pressure on the state mental hospitals.

Supporters of Medicaid expansion in Kansas have been stymied by Gov. Sam Brownback’s unyielding opposition. A new alliance is focusing on passing an expansion bill in 2017.

The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas boasts 70 members, including advocacy groups, health care providers, unions and foundations. Although polls show a majority of Kansans support extending Medicaid to an estimated 150,000 additional low-income Kansans, Kansas remains one of 19 states that have refused to budge on the issue.

David Jordan takes the reins of the alliance next week.

Public Opinion Strategies

A new Kansas Hospital Association poll shows strong support in Kansas for expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income adults.

The poll, done in mid-February, shows that 63 percent of likely voters support expanding eligibility for KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

Members of Gov. Sam Brownback’s Rural Health Working Group have their work cut out for them.

Representatives of the state’s hospitals and doctors briefed Lieutenant Gov. Jeff Colyer and other members group Tuesday night at its first meeting.

The Kansas Hospital Association’s Melissa Hungerford says many rural providers are being hit hard by the combination of older and sicker patients, the lack of Medicaid expansion and declining Medicare reimbursements.

Jasleen Kaur, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas’ rejection of Medicaid expansion has now cost the state more than $1 billion in lost federal revenue.

The Kansas Hospital Association keeps a running total of how much federal money the state is losing because it hasn’t expanded KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

That total spun past $1 billion over the weekend.

Hospitals say they urgently need the additional federal dollars to offset reductions in other federal reimbursements.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A recent report credits the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, for helping to reduce the racial and ethnic inequalities in health insurance coverage. But Kansas has not made as much progress as other states. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson investigates why—and what can be done about it.

KHI News Service

From KHI News Service:

A spat over Medicaid expansion and Senate rules caused the leader of the Kansas Senate to replace the chairwoman of the Senate Public Health Committee on Friday.

Senate President Susan Wagle, a Republican from Wichita, said in a statement released Saturday morning that Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook “showed a complete disrespect for the body and its rules” earlier in the week.

Stephen Koranda

A rule in the Kansas House was used today to block a proposal to expand Medicaid.

Democratic Rep. Jim Ward offered the budget amendment to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. He says it would provide more than 150,000 Kansans with health care coverage.

“Over 50 percent of these are working Kansans who go to work every day but work in jobs that don’t pay enough to buy insurance or don’t provide employer-based insurance,” Ward says.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Committees in the Kansas House and Senate have introduced a Medicaid expansion bill modeled after one approved by Indiana’s conservative Republican governor and legislature.

The Kansas proposal is designed to appeal to the Republicans who control the legislature. It would require the approximately 150,000 people expected to gain coverage to help pay for it. And it would cancel coverage for those who fall behind in their payments.

A Kansas lawmaker appointed to a group formed by Gov. Sam Brownback to address rural health issues says he hopes it’s not an attempt to divert attention from the issue of Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Jim Kelly wants to participate in any effort to help rural hospitals. That’s because the Independence Republican represents a community that recently lost its only hospital.