Kan. hospitals urge no statement on Medicaid move

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm •  Published: February 22, 2013

Even without expanding Medicaid, state officials expect participation in both programs to increase. They believe publicity about the federal health care law — which mandates that most Americans purchase health insurance, starting in 2014 — will spur interest in Medicaid and CHIP.

The KDHE study, prepared by Aon Hewitt, a global actuarial and human resources firm based in Linconshire, Ill., projected enrollment in the two programs will expand by nearly 42,000 by 2016, even without a Medicaid expansion, costing the state $515 million over the next 10 years.

The KDHE study projected that with an expansion, the state would see its enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP grow by 226,000 by 2016 — so that more than 20 percent of the state's population would be covered. With an additional $600 million in costs from the expansion, the total 10-year cost to the state would exceed $1.1 billion, the study said.

Critics of an expansion question not only whether the state can afford it but doubt that the federal government can afford its share, given its annual budget deficits and its growing debt. Larry Halloran of Wichita, vice president of the tea party-aligned Kansans for Liberty, suggested in a statement that expanding Medicaid was "pinning IOUs to the blankets of newborns."

But the Hospital Association's study, prepared by George Washington University and an Amherst, Mass., research firm, Regional Economic Models Inc., said the Medicaid expansion would create jobs in health care and lower some state social services costs. Its analysis said that over the next seven years, the state would save $82 million.

Representatives of more than a dozen health care providers and groups submitted written statements against the proposed resolution. Some said expanding Medicaid would ensure more Kansans receive good health care.

"It is about believing that all Kansans matter and should have the opportunity to be healthy and productive," Cathy Harding, executive director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, said in her statement.

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The resolution on Medicaid is HCR 5013.

Online:

Kansas Legislature: http://www.kslegislature.org

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