Kansas plans to add additional cuts to Medicaid

Posted at 12:32 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-28 23:32:17-04

While more Kansans have health insurance than ever before, those who rely on Medicaid may find it tougher these days to even find a doctor.

That’s because of the state's plan to make cuts to Medicaid.

In an effort to balance the budget for fiscal years 2017 and 2018, Governor Sam Brownback signed a budget bill in May.

The bill calls for cutting $97 million in state spending with more than half of the cuts coming from Medicaid.

Currently, Medicaid providers receive 60 percent reimbursement. Come July 1, their rates will drop by another four percent, or roughly $56 million.

Breast cancer patient, Martha Smith, relies on Medicaid to cover her chemotherapy and treatment. Smith will soon have to cut back on the number of times she can actually see a doctor.

On top of that, the meds her doctors say she needs are not covered. She ends up going without.

“Then we end up with the people coming to pick us up by ambulance and taking us to the hospital and then E.R. admitting us," said Smith.

"With fewer physicians to see these patients, they'll end up in the emergency room," said Dr. Mark Brady, president of Wyandotte Medical Society. "The emergency rooms become more clogged and crowded. And more patients will be seen resulting in a higher cost for the whole state in actuality."

Brady says he’s already seen colleagues stop taking Medicaid patients.

“Instead of expanding as we should have, we're now restricting or contracting and that makes for a double whammy, if you will, on the patient and patient providers like our hospital system," said KCK Senator David Haley. 

“At some point, as altruistic as you want to be, if you're in business, you finally have to say, ‘I just can't afford to lose money every time I'm treating someone,’” said Mike Taylor from United Government KCK Wyandotte County.

In 2010, Kansas’ then-Governor Parkinson called for a 10 percent cut.

What's different this time is that around 100 hospitals in rural areas will be exempt from the new reduction. So are homebound disabled people.

However, that means urban areas like KCK will see the brunt of the cuts.

"I think the big impact is that we'll see fewer providers who can treat people that finally do have insurance," said Taylor. "We'll see a bigger load on our health department. The cost on Providence Hospital, KU hospital will be huge."

The University of Kansas Hospital gave away almost $52 million in uncompensated care last year.

Over $72 million in matching federal funds is also being left on the table.

To see a breakdown on state spending cuts in Kansas for fiscal year 2017, click here.


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