Medicaid

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.

Bigstock Images

Some advocates for seniors and Kansans with disabilities are calling for changes in the state’s privatized Medicaid program. As Jim McLean of the Kansas Health Institute reports, they want a more independent process for resolving disputes over services.

More from Dave Ranney at the Heartland Health Monitor.

A recent ruling by a federal appeals court could affect whether some elderly and disabled Kansans continue to receive the services they need to remain in their homes and stay out of nursing facilities.

This is another case that pitted the Obama administration against states led by conservative Republicans.

Bryan Thompson

The federal government is providing more than $4 million this year to open six new health centers in Kansas. These clinics offer comprehensive primary care to everyone, whether the patient has insurance, or not. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson reports, they can be a lifeline for people who struggle to pay for health care.

Andy Marso / KHI/File photo

Gov. Sam Brownback said Friday he’s unconvinced Medicaid expansion is an answer to the financial woes of rural Kansas hospitals and suggested they should innovate instead.

During a news conference Friday, Brownback was asked about a Reuters story on the improving financial fortunes of public hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act versus the stagnation of hospitals in states that did not.

The governor said he had seen another report recently that “went the other way.”

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