Remember that headline-grabbing report last week that said Kansas was the only state in the nation to see a significant increase in its uninsured rate?
Well, it’s looking more and more suspect.
Some officials were immediately skeptical when the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey results were released, showing that the adult uninsured rate in Kansas had increased by 5.1 percentage points, jumping from 12.5 percent in 2013 to 17.6 percent by mid-year 2014.
Kansas was one of just three states that saw their rates of people without health insurance go up since last year, according to a new survey.
And, if the poll results are accurate, Kansas was the one whose rates went up the most.
The data, collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, show that the uninsured population in Kansas rose from 12.5 percent in 2013 to 17.6 percent by midyear 2014 — a whopping increase of 5.1 percentage points.
The Affordable Care Act once again is a factor in Kansas legislative races. Some conservative groups are using the federal health reform law to target several moderate House Republicans running for re-election against conservative challengers.
Five candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for Kansas insurance commissioner, an office that regulates insurance companies, examines them for financial solvency, ensures compliance with insurance regulations, licenses insurance agents, and educates and assists consumers. The primary winner on Aug. 5 will face off in the fall against the lone Democrat in the race, Dennis Anderson. The winner in November will succeed Sandy Praeger, who was elected in 2003 and is stepping down.
Kansas Medicaid providers with expansion plans ready to go after spending months and thousands of dollars preparing for the state’s new health homes initiative said they were “shocked” and “disappointed” that state officials abruptly chose to indefinitely delay much of the program’s implementation while giving the providers less than 24 hours' notice of the state’s decision to hit the pause button.
In this KHI News Service file photo, Julie Konig, right, a certified application counselor with the Shawnee County Health Agency, talks with a woman seeking insurance through the Obamacare marketplace. People who have had certain "life-changing" events can still enroll in health coverage and need not wait until the 2015 open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15.
More than 57,000 Kansans signed up for health insurance through the federal exchange before the March 31 deadline.
“That was 19.1 percent of all those who were eligible,” said Katrina McGivern, communications coordinator for the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, one of the Kansas groups given federal grant dollars to help get people enrolled.
Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law a bill that might make it possible for Kansas to join a compact of states that want the power to run Medicare and Medicaid within their borders.
The new law also creates the possibility that the compact states could circumvent several key provisions in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“The Health Care Compact will allow states to restore and protect Medicare for generations to come,” Brownback said in a prepared statement today announcing that he had signed the measure. The actual signing was Tuesday.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday morning that will join the state with others attempting to sever ties with the federal Affordable Care Act legislation.
With the approval of House Bill 2553, Kansas joins the Health Care Compact, a coalition of states seeking exemption from federal health care rules, while retaining federal health funding. The Compact will need to be approved by the U.S. Legislature.
Brownback stated the Compact would allow states to preserve Medicare.
Gov. Sam Brownback would be taking a political risk by signing a bill that could eventually give state officials control of Medicare and other federal health care programs, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said Tuesday.
Praeger, a Republican in the final year of her third and final term, said because the bill could “jeopardize” the benefits of the nearly 450,000 Kansans enrolled in Medicare signing it could alienate senior voters.
The Affordable Care Act has put Sandy Praeger at odds with most of her fellow Republicans in Topeka, Kan.
The Kansas Commissioner of Insurance shared the frustration many had over the health exchange website problems, and she’s voiced concern over how shifting rules and delays impact the insurance industry.
But Praeger has remained a supporter of federal health reform, a proponent of Medicaid expansion, and a critic of Gov. Sam Brownback’s approach to health policy.
She answered five questions as part of our monthly series, KC Checkup:
Renan Raven (left, center), a marketing specialist with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, provided answers about health insurance at a Saturday health fair in Kansas City, Kan. Raven is bilingual, and he was in high demand from the large number of Hispanics who attended the fair.
As an uninsured agriculture worker, Salvador Lopez said he’d welcome health coverage so he could afford diabetes medication.
Health insurance would also help his wife, said the Excelsior Springs, Mo., resident. Not feeling well on Saturday, she actually had her blood pressure checked at the health fair the couple attended with their two daughters in Kansas City, Kan.
But organizers said the main point of the two-day fair was to enroll people for health insurance through the new marketplace established through the Affordable Care Act.
Federal health exchange in enrollment is slowing, according to data released Tuesday.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 29,309 in Kansas and 74,469 in Missouri selected insurance plans by the end of February. That is up 31 percent in Kansas and 38 percent in Missouri from the previous report, a slow-down compared with an increase of about 60 percent in both states during January.
In a conference call, Julie Bataille of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services brushed aside concerns about slowing momentum.
Kansas insurers will be allowed to renew for an additional year health insurance policies that do not comply with Affordable Care Act requirements.
The Kansas Insurance Department announced Thursday that it would accept the Obama administration’s offer for states to extend policies that do not comply with new federal health insurance requirements.
The offer came as part of new Affordable Care Act regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Kansas City Monday morning, drumming up interest in Obamacare.
In the first segment of Monday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with the head of Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City about insurance available through the Affordable Care Act and ongoing efforts to connect people to it.
Dr. Bridget McCandless, president and CEO, Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City
Changes to insurance have been getting all the headlines, but the Affordable Care Act aims to change the way doctors operate as well.
The federal law offers incentives for health providers to work together to keep Medicare patients healthy in hopes of saving money. Whether this approach can actually create savings is still unclear, and many doctors remain skeptical. But in Kansas City, a few doctors are teaming up.
In a phone conversation on Thursday afternoon, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed some of the current issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act.
Sebelius has faced criticism over the health exchange rollout, canceled insurance policies and abortion coverage. Some of her strongest critics hail from Kansas, the state where Sebelius twice served as governor.
Insurance shoppers will need to register on the marketplaces by Monday, Dec. 23 to get coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2014. Open enrollment will continue until March 31.
Now that healthcare.gov has undergone some major tweaks, supporters of the Affordable Care Act hope that a lot more people will go online and compare insurance rates. But what might surprise shoppers is how rates and subsidies vary depending on their address.
In Missouri, insurance buyers in different parts of the Show-Me State are seeing some of the most extreme cost differences in the country.
Missouri will allow health insurance companies to continue offering policies that otherwise would have been canceled under the terms of the new federal health care law.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the state will let insurers sell individual and small-group policies in 2014 that were to be canceled because they didn't meet federal coverage requirements taking effect next year.
The wait for one of the biggest pieces of Obamacare is over. Starting Tuesday, Americans who don't have access to affordable health insurance through their employers can shop for coverage in new online marketplaces, also known as exchanges. The Kansas Insurance Department has been holding meetings across the state to answer questions about the exchange.
Linda Sheppard is the Kansas Insurance Department’s Director of Health Care Policy. She says the state is ready as it can be.