Medicaid expansion bill introduced in KS House

Posted at 9:24 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 23:24:57-05

The Kansas Health Association is behind a bill called the "Bridge to Healthy Kansas" that would expand Medicaid in the state.

On Tuesday, the organization introduced the measure to the Kansas House with research it believes shows a significant upside for expansion.

Read the brief here.

Under the proposal, some 150,000 working Kansans who are in what's called the gap would be eligible for health insurance. Chad Austin with the KHA said, "They fall outside eligibility requirements and so this allows them to get coverage even though they currently don't qualify for the Medicaid program."

When asked how the state would save money by expanding, Austin explained there is a cost for "uncompensated care that currently happens with our hospitals when people do not have health insurance, and so at the end of the day, everyone pays in terms of those individuals who do not have health insurance because that's spread across all the insured populations that we have." He says that alone is about a billion dollars a year. By insuring more people, hospitals would be paid and that number would go down.

Kansas State Rep. Barbara Bollier, who represents part of Johnson County, spent 15 years in the medical field as an anesthesiologist. She is for Medicaid expansion.

"It's mostly adults that are working, they are able-bodied and they don't have health insurance," Bollier said. "There were the votes on health committee to move a Medicaid expansion bill forward." Now, she's not so sure.

Follow the money here.

Just this month, President Barack Obama announced that he would be seeking an incentive for the 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid. It would provide full federal funding for three years if approved, then decrease to 90 percent. Obama plans to seek legislative authority when he releases his 2017 fiscal budget proposal Feb. 7.

Opponents say the numbers don't paint the full picture because once the federal funding decreases, Kansas would be left to cover the cost.


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