Medicaid expansion

Aileen LeBlanc

**UPDATE**  

The latest data published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates 96,226 Kansans have signed up for health care coverage through HealthCare.gov

This story originally aired during Morning Edition on Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House committee has drafted a plan for expanding the state's Medicaid program for poor and disabled Kansans, in line with the Affordable Care Act.

The Vision 2020 Committee introduced the bill in the House on Monday.

The bill would impose a special tax on hospitals and other health care providers to raise any state matching funds required to tap extra federal dollars.

It also would allow the state to require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work.

In most of the states seeking to go their own way on Medicaid expansion, governors are leading the negotiations with the federal government. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, it’s a different story in Kansas.

Efforts to expand Medicaid in Kansas and Missouri been unsuccessful in recent years. But advocates say this year could be different particularly in Kansas where hospitals are gearing up for a big push.

The hospitals are crafting their plans to appeal to conservative Republicans who control the governor's office and both houses of the Legislature. Jim McLean of the KHI News Service has details.

A new Gallup poll shows Kansas is the only state in the nation to see a significant increase in its uninsured rate this year. Meanwhile, states that adopted parts of the Affordable Care Act have seen the largest declines in their rates.

The adult uninsured rate in Kansas rose from 12.5 percent last year to more than 17.5 percent during the first half of this year, giving it the seventh-highest uninsured rate in the U.S. Research director Dan Witters did not offer an explanation for the growth in Kansas uninsured.

Gov.  Sam Brownback is making a major push to improve the state’s mental health system. The governor's plan creates a behavioral health sub-cabinet within state government, targets substance abuse for its role in exacerbating mental illness, and increases financial investment in current treatment programs, among other things. 

Another new study says that expanding Medicaid would help low-income workers in Kansas and boost the state’s economy.

This latest study comes from the Kansas Center for Economic Growth. Jim McLean of the KHI News Service has more.

The Medicaid expansion study was funded in part by a consortium of Kansas health foundations, some of which also provide support to the KHI News Service.

The Kansas Hospital Association is working on an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul.

Hospital Association Vice President Cindy Samuelson says that the association doesn't know what form its proposal will take.

But it has hired a firm headed by former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to help with a plan.

One option is to use additional federal funds promised under the federal health care law to help Kansans buy private coverage.

Arkansas and Iowa are taking that approach.

Julia Schwinn-Holen

85,000 uninsured Kansans have found themselves in the so-called Medicaid gap, unable to receive federal or state funding to help cover healthcare costs. Governor Brownback has deferred the issue to state lawmakers. Many local residents spoke about the issue at a legislative forum.

Kansans will likely increase the pressure to expand Medicaid next year, to cover thousands of uninsured residents.

Advocates say they'll push for an expansion once lawmakers convene their annual session January 13.

The Republican-dominated Legislature's displeasure with the federal health care overhaul led it to reject the expansion, which would be paid for with federal dollars.

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