Medicaid

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Medicaid applications are piling up in Topeka because of problems with a new computer system, which are also causing some Kansans to lose their coverage.

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.

Disney | ABC Television Group, flickr Creative Commons

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is calling on Kansas to expand its Medicaid program to provide health coverage for thousands of additional families.

Clinton issued a statement Monday, hours before the Republican-dominated Legislature opened its annual session.

The federal health overhaul championed by Democratic President Barack Obama encourages states to expand their Medicaid programs and promises the federal government will pay almost all of the cost.

Clinton said expanding Medicaid also would help small rural hospitals.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas is one of 20 states that have refused to expand Medicaid. At a forum in Overland Park Tuesday on KanCare, Kansas’ privatized version of Medicaid, a leader of Indiana’s push to expand the program explained how his very conservative state managed to do it.

A legislative oversight committee is recommending several changes in Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program to save money. One of the recommendations is sparking controversy because it would withhold potentially life-saving treatments from some patients.

A recent legislative audit has found that a new computer system designed to make it easier for Kansas residents to apply for Medicaid and other social services is more than two years past due and at least $46 million over budget.

Andy Marso / KHI News

A new computer system is causing long delays in processing Medicaid applications in Kansas.

The Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System finally went live this summer after almost two years of delays and nearly $50 million in projected cost overruns.

It was supposed to streamline enrollment in Medicaid and other social service programs. But a recent audit found that the software needed many more modifications than expected.

Groups that serve Kansans with disabilities say applications that took days under the old system are now taking months.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

The federal health insurance marketplace opened Nov. 1 for 2016 coverage. An effort called Cover Kansas has been branching out all across the state to help Kansans find a plan that best suits their needs. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson paid a visit to one of their outreach events in Dodge City.

The number of people without health insurance is going down in both Kansas and Missouri, but not as fast as in many other states. One of the main reasons is that neither state expanded its Medicaid program.

Robert St. Peter, president of the nonprofit think tank the Kansas Health Institute, says new data from the U.S. Census Bureau show a clear distinction between those states that expanded Medicaid and those that didn’t.

Mercy Hospital Independence

The hospital that has served the residents of Independence, Kansas, for nearly a century is closing its doors. Officials say several factors are to blame for the hospital’s financial struggles. But they say one stands out: Gov. Sam Brownback’s rejection of Medicaid expansion.

Jim McLean of the KHI News Service has more on how the closure of the southeast Kansas hospital could change the expansion debate in the state.

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