Medicaid

KHI News Service

A new computer system for enrolling Kansans in Medicaid and other public assistance programs will generate far less than the expected $300 million in savings, a Legislative Post Audit report finds.

The Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System (KEES) was intended to be a central portal where people could apply for benefits like Medicaid, food stamps and cash assistance, and the state could automatically verify their eligibility.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

The Kansas legislative session is already underway in Topeka. On this week's Statehouse Blend, we discuss the most important issues for the 2016 legislature, and speculate on the outcomes. We're talking KDOT, elections, and the budget.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

The Kansas legislative session is already underway in Topeka. On this week's Statehouse Blend, we discuss the most important issues for the 2016 legislature, and speculate on the outcomes. We're talking KDOT, elections, and the budget.

Guests:

KHI News Service

A key member of Gov. Sam Brownback’s new rural health working group says he hopes the initiative is a serious effort to address problems facing rural providers, not an attempt to divert attention from a renewed push to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

Republican Rep. Jim Kelly represents Independence, the southeast Kansas community that recently lost its only hospital due to budget problems exacerbated by federal reductions in Medicare reimbursement rates and the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion.

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback didn’t specifically mention Medicaid expansion in his State of the State speech Tuesday night to a joint session of the Legislature.

But he made it clear that he remains opposed to expanding eligibility to cover more than 150,000 low-income adults, many of whom are uninsured.

Seeming to acknowledge that the closure of Mercy Hospital in the southeast Kansas community of Independence had increased support for expansion, Brownback said “Obamacare” was the main reason for its financial struggles and those of other rural hospitals.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

A tentative plan to save Kansas government more than $2 billion over five years relies heavily on proposed changes to the state employee health plan and Medicaid.

The report, written by the New York-based consulting firm of Alvarez and Marsal under a $2.6 million contract with the state, includes 105 recommendations for “achieving major cost savings.”

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

If policy makers in deep-red Indiana can do it, so can their equally conservative counterparts in Kansas.

That was the dominant – though not unanimously held – message at a forum Tuesday at Johnson County Community College, where the topic was expanding the Kansas Medicaid program to cover as many as 150,000 additional Kansans.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

The Kansas Legislature’s auditors say that the rollout of the computer system the state now uses to process Medicaid applications was long delayed in part because the contractor’s software required numerous modifications.

State officials say the system is improving and ultimately will make applying for Medicaid and social services a much more efficient process.

Kansas Hospital Association

Expanding Kansas’ Medicaid program would generate enough offsetting savings to more than cover the cost of insurance for another 150,000 low-income Kansans, according to an analysis released Tuesday by six health foundations.

The analysis done by Manatt Health Solutions, a national health care consulting firm, shows that expanding Medicaid would lower state costs in several areas by enough to cover the annual $53 million cost of expansion with money to spare.

Kansas Legislature

Two Kansas lawmakers who lost their health committee assignments because they support Medicaid expansion say the purge has given the issue more momentum.

Interviewed over the weekend for KCUR’s “Statehouse Blend” podcast, Republican House members Susan Concannon, from Beloit, and Don Hill, from Emporia, said Speaker Ray Merrick’s decision to remove them from the Health and Human Services Committee was a mistake if his goal was to shut down discussion on the expansion issue.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Susan Concannon and Rep. Don Hill provide an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss their removal from the Health and Human Services Committee.

Guests:

Add the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce to the list of Kansas organizations that support expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.

Pushed by influential hospital members Via Christi Health and Wesley Medical Center, the chamber’s board voted Thursday to add expansion to its list of policy priorities for the 2016 legislative session, said Jason Watkins, the organization’s lobbyist.

Kansas Legislature

Three Republicans will not be returning to the House Health and Human Services Committee next year.

The reason: Their support for Medicaid expansion.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, a conservative Republican from Stilwell, has removed Rep. Susan Concannon of Beloit, Rep. Barbara Bollier of Mission Hills and Rep. Don Hill of Emporia from the panel and given them new assignments. All three are moderate Republicans. 

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

A budget deal in Washington, D.C., is helping Kansas balance its own books temporarily with an infusion of Medicaid cash.

But a Democratic senator says the savings should be used to provide home and community-based services to Kansans with disabilities.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, answered lawmaker questions Monday about the administration’s plan to shift about $125 million to the state general fund.

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Supporters of expanding Medicaid in Kansas hope the story of how the conservative governor of another red state found a way to move forward will motivate Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders to do the same here.

They invited a delegation of hospital officials from Indiana to come and talk about how they worked with Republican Gov. Mike Pence and large GOP majorities in the Indiana Legislature to pass a conservative plan that expanded health coverage to more than 350,000 low-income residents of the Hoosier state but required them to share in the costs.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, columnists and bloggers speculate about spooky legislation we might see in 2016 and discuss the legislative ghosts that might carry over from 2015. It's a Statehouse Blend Halloween Special.

Guests:

www.kslegislature.org

Kansas Senate Vice President Jeff King is taking issue with Governor Sam Brownback’s reasons for opposing Medicaid expansion.

Melika Willoughby, Brownback’s deputy communications director, outlined those reasons in an Oct. 6 email to supporters. Referring to expansion as a “masquerading component of Obamacare, Willoughby said the governor believes it would “morally reprehensible” for the state provide health coverage to low-income Kansans “who choose not to work” before providing support services to all of the disabled Kansans now on waiting lists.

Kansas Action for Children

An annual report on child well-being in Kansas shows some positive trends, but they’re overshadowed by persistent problems.

Among the improvements cited in the 2015 Kansas Kids Count report: There are fewer uninsured children in Kansas.

Ian D. Keating / Flickr -- Creative Commons

For two years now, the staff at Kansas Action for Children has been trying to unravel a mystery: Why is Medicaid enrollment dropping among the state’s youngest children?

Enrollment of low-income children 1-5 peaked in October 2012 and has been dropping steadily since.

Enrollment of infants younger than 1 in low-income families also dropped during that period. Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children, a Topeka-based nonprofit, said she wants more research to determine whether eligible children are missing out on health coverage.

Mercy Hospital Independence

Note: This story was updated at 12:37 p.m. to include a link to the Republican talking points memo.

The Medicaid expansion debate in Kansas is heating up.

Big time.

The pending closure of Mercy Hospital in the southeast Kansas community of Independence appears to be the catalyst.

Kansas officials announced Tuesday they will delay for six months a plan to consolidate Medicaid support services for Kansans with various disabilities.

The leaders of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said they want to use the time to gather more information from people who would be affected by the changes.

“After discussions with consumers, providers and other stakeholders, we have decided to take additional time to incorporate stakeholder feedback,” KDADS Secretary Kari Bruffett said in a statement.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Sen. Jim Denning from Overland Park provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss Medicaid expansion and the Kansas budget.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Missouri Rep. Jeremy LaFaver from District 025 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss legislative term limits, Planned Parenthood, and Medicaid.

Guests:

  • Jeremy LaFaver, Rep. from District 025, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Meredith Adams, Citizen
  • Cody Newill, General Assignment Reporter, KCUR

Kansas’ decision to not expand Medicaid is putting health care providers in jeopardy, the head of the state’s largest health system said Wednesday.

Jeff Korsmo, CEO of Wichita-based Via Christi Health, issued a statement calling on Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders to drop their opposition to expanding KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Mercy Hospital Independence

The scheduled closure of the only hospital in the southeast Kansas community of Independence could create new urgency around the Medicaid expansion debate.

Advocates of expanding the Kansas Medicaid program — known as KanCare — say the additional federal money it would generate would help stabilize a growing number of struggling hospitals in the state and might have helped save Mercy Hospital Independence.

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Editor's note: This story was updated on Sept. 1 to include the response of the CEO of Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

A former emergency room nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital has filed a federal “whistleblower” lawsuit alleging that the hospital falsified patient records to obtain higher Medicare and Medicaid payments.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. on behalf of Megen Duffy alleges that top hospital officials knew about the fraud, which began in 2007, and threatened to fire employees who objected.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Cabinet officials say Kansas’ quest to combine Medicaid waivers for people with seven categories of disabilities is intended to provide better care and outcomes, not cost savings.

But costs will go down if care improves as intended, they say.

Officials from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services are beginning a statewide listening tour on the proposed changes after briefing a legislative committee on them Friday.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas officials are reviewing a recent federal appeals court ruling that requires the state’s Medicaid program to pay in-home care workers minimum wage and overtime.

Officials at the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services issued a statement shortly after the ruling was handed down Friday saying they were attempting to determine its “potential impact” on the state’s Medicaid program, known as KanCare.

Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

  The head of the Kansas Hospital Association is taking issue with comments made by Gov. Sam Brownback at a recent news conference.

Asked about his continuing opposition to Medicaid expansion, Brownback downplayed the importance of the issue, telling reporters that innovation is more important to hospital finances than the billions of additional federal dollars that expansion would provide.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Missouri Rep. Joe Don McGaugh from District 039 provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss agriculture, education, and Medicaid expansion.

Guests:

  • Joe Don McGaugh, Rep. for District 039, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Arley Hoskin, Citizen Voice
  • Mike McGraw, Special Projects Reporter, Flatland KC

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