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Kansas House panel tables Medicaid expansion bill over objections of hospital supporters

House Health and Human Services Committee Vice Chair Susan Concannon, left, Chairman Dan Hawkins, and ranking Democrat John Wilson listen during debate on a bill to expand the Kansas Medicaid program known as KanCare under the federal Affordable Care Act.

— A Kansas House committee voted Monday to table a bill that would have extended Medicaid coverage to an estimated 181,000 people, a move that may effectively kill any hopes of expanding Medicaid during the 2017 session.

Rep. John Barker, R-Abilene, offered that motion in the House Health and Human Services Committee, arguing that he didn’t think the state should make any major new financial commitments until it hears from the Kansas Supreme Court on the pending school finance lawsuit, which could force the state to spend hundreds of millions in additional money on K-12 education.

State Medicaid officials estimated the expansion would have cost the state about $52 million a year once fully implemented, and that it would bring in nearly $1 billion in federal health care money.

Supporters of the expansion said that money could help save many small hospitals in the state that are struggling financially because the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid.

Rep. Jim Kelly, R-Independence, said he represents a city where a community hospital did close last year, and he has seen firsthand the impact that had on the community.

“When the hospital closed, it impacted not only Independence and the other areas in the county, but it also impacted surrounding counties that relied on medical care coming from the Independence providers,” he said. “It also impacted every industry in our community. It impacted every school. It impacted every nursing home. Any medical trip in Independence is now a road trip. You have to go out of town.”

But opponents argued that government cannot afford to pay the cost of extending health care coverage.

“I look at where we’re going to be five years from now when it comes to paying the piper. It’s going to cost more,” said Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs. “And right now, we’re in a situation with our government where we don’t have more, and yet individuals are asking for more. You can’t get blood from a turnip.”

Monday’s vote leaves the bill’s fate in the hands of House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., R-Olathe, who has authority to use a procedural move that would exempt the bill from the ordinary deadline, but there was no immediate word from Ryckman’s office about whether he intends to do that.

“I’m disappointed by today’s vote,” said Rep. John Wilson, D-Lawrence, who is the ranking Democrat on the health committee. He said he had been given assurances that the bill would go through a fair process in the committee.

“I hope the chair and Speaker will allow us to come back and vote on the bill on April 3,” Wilson said.

Earlier in the meeting, a motion to table the bill until January 2018 failed on an 8-8 tie vote. A motion to table the bill until April 3 passed on a 9-8 vote, with committee Chairman Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, casting the deciding vote.

Rep. Susan Concannon, R-Beloit, who is vice-chair of the committee and a major supporter of the bill, said she would urge Speaker Ryckman to exempt the bill from Thursday’s deadline.

“I don’t think this is the way to handle something, if we’re going to have a real and honest debate,” she said. “That was a sign of desperation.”

Currently, Kansas only offers Medicaid to working-age adults if they have children and earn less than about 38 percent of the federal poverty level, or $7,644 a year for a single parent with two children.

Under the Affordable Care Act, however, states can expand eligibility to cover all working-age individuals or families with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level, or $27,821 a year for a family of three, and the federal government would pay about 93 percent of the cost of covering that expansion group.

But that didn’t reassure lawmakers like Rep. Randy Powell, R-Olathe.

“I would say even if the federal government could pay 100 percent of this and continue on, it’s not money falling from heaven, people. This is money that’s being printed,” Powell said. “That, in essence, is theft because we don’t have the value backing that currency.”

If Ryckman chooses not to exempt the bill, lawmakers still have one other avenue to resurrect it, but it would require a supermajority of 70 members to vote to bring the bill out of committee. Under House rules, the bill then would have to be debated on the floor the following day.

Comments

Bob Forer

State Medicaid officials estimated the expansion would have cost the state about $52 million a year once fully implemented, and that it would bring in nearly $1 billion in federal health care money.

How foolish. A fifty million dollar expenditure to inject over a billion dollars a year in outside money to our economy. And more importantly, to help folks get well.

4 months ago

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Brett McCabe

And the aid would go to the most in need in our state. But republicans would rather oppose Obamacare than help their own citizens get life-saving health care.

4 months ago

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Paul Beyer

The Koch brothers still own the legislators and medicaid expansion might affect their tax breaks.

4 months ago

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Bob Summers

What's the return on investment for these 181,000 units?

It looks like another insolvent bet by government masterminds.

It seems socially fair, women need to be trained in government schools to not have children if they are going to need someone else to pay their medical bills.

4 months ago

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MerriAnnie Smith

Thank you, Bob.

We try to explain to people how far right Republicans think but sometimes it gets to sounding like we're talking about little green people from Mars. They're so far off base.

But your comments give us a perfect example that we can simply point to -- and there it is... for all to see. Sexism.... just ONE of the things you can see in Repub's comments.

4 months ago

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Richard Heckler

Why do Kansas conservatives like throwing democrats and republicans under the bus?

$52 million for $1 billion = smart spending. Kansas conservatives have been dumbed down by Sam Brownback and Lt Governor. Guess they have no brain power nor any backbone.

Dumb Dumb Dumb

4 months ago

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Bob Summers

What's "Dumb Dumb Dumb" is you Liberals believing Federal government has a $1 billion they haven't digitally monetized yet.

4 months ago

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Greg Cooper

And what makes you believe they won't stand by their promise? Damn, Summers, you don't get it at all, do you? If they don't, then they don't, but why not at least hold them to their guns? Your pessimistic attitude toward the government in this case is simply fighting back against that which might improve the conditions of those who don't have the means to do it themselves. Nice.

4 months ago

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Richard Heckler

Repeal The Mandate!

I am fine with repealing the "mandate to purchase" or at least altering it to a choice without penalty.

There are some who would rather finance their own health care straight out of their pockets which would reduce the expense considerably for them as would Medicare Single Payer Insurance of which both options should be open to all.

I say repeal the mandate STAT.

Then provide 3 choices:

1. ObamaCare which retains the health insurance industry

2. Single Payer Medicare for ALL = excellent coverage

3. Self financed health care

So now conservatives get on with this without screwing up healthcare, without a bunch of BS and stop throwing republicans and democrats under the bus.

EXPAND MEDICAID NOW!

4 months ago

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Christine Anderson

Shirt heads!!! Morons like these are the reason I became a Democrat!!! Why, of course you have better things to worry about than the health and well-being of the citizens of Ks. Ppppfffftttt!

4 months ago

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Richard Heckler

How many republicans,democrats and moderates are conservatives willing to throw under the bus?

Here are 10 great reasons to support IMPROVED Medicare Single Payer Insurance:

1. Everybody In, Nobody Out. Universal means access to health care for everyone, period. Plus it is estimated to create 2.6 million new jobs!

2. Portability. If you are unemployed, or lose or change jobs, your health coverage stays with you.

3. Uniform Benefits. No Cadillac plans for the wealthy and Pinto plans for everyone else, with high deductibles, limited services, caps on payments for care, and no protection in the event of a catastrophe. One level of comprehensive care for everyone, regardless of the size of your wallet.

4. Prevention. By removing financial roadblocks, a universal health system encourages preventive care that lowers an individual's ultimate cost and pain and suffering when problems are neglected and societal cost in the over-utilization of emergency rooms or the spread of communicable diseases.

5. Choice. Most private insurance restricts your choice of providers and hospitals. Under the U.S. National Health Insurance Act, patients have a choice, and the provider is assured a fair payment.

6. No Interference with Care. Caregivers and patients regain their autonomy to decide what's best for a patient's health, not what's dictated by the billing department. No denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions or cancellation of policies for "unreported" minor health problems.

7. Reducing Waste. One third of every private health insurance dollar goes for paperwork and profits, compared to about 3% under Medicare, the federal government’s universal system for senior citizen healthcare.

8. Cost Savings. A guaranteed health care system can produce the cost savings needed to cover everyone, largely by using existing resources without the waste. Taiwan, shifting from a U.S. private health care model, adopted a similar system in 1995, boosting health coverage from 57% to 97% with little increase in overall health care spending.

9. Common Sense Budgeting. The public system sets fair reimbursements applied equally to all providers, private and public, while assuring that appropriate health care is delivered, and uses its clout to negotiate volume discounts for prescription drugs and medical equipment.

10. Public Oversight. The public sets the policies and administers the system, not high priced CEOs meeting in private and making decisions based on their company’s stock performance needs.

4 months ago

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Bob Summers

All you and your fellow Liberals need is more of other peoples money and all your dreams will come true.

Here is a diverse, inclusive bumper sticker for your smart car that should rally fellow Larryville critical thinking plebs.

http://www2.ljworld.com/users/photos/...

4 months ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

All conservatives should be required to watch someone, who was working for a cheap, greedy employer when they got cancer and had no money for treatment, die a slow painful death. Of course, I'm beginning to think that some conservatives might like doing just that.

4 months ago

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Michael Kort

The bell tolls for our state legislators and their cheap skate constituents because when you deny healthcare to others the universe can put the same thing beyond your own grasp,.... with or without you having any visible health insurance .

Do unto who ?..........say....... Do unto yourselves .

Go invent an excuse or explanation for doing unto yourselves ! ......Good luck !

4 months ago

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MerriAnnie Smith

Read it again, Josh.

You seem to have skipped everything but the headline.

4 months ago

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Barbara Johnston

Another 181,000 Kansans covered by health insurance? What a deal! Hospitals will benefit in not having to pay for ER visits from patients who wait til they're really sick; catastrophic healthcare costs will not drive one into bankruptcy; people won't have to live in fear about getting sick. Medicaid or KanCare expansion is a great idea, but Medicare for All, even better.

4 months ago

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Armen Kurdian

The bill should go through. The Legislature should bet on the come that the ACA will get repealed and replaced with something that is more financially sound and better structured. I can see the logic about allowing yourself to be more beholden to the federal government for money, it's not a good situation. But in this case I think it makes sense.

4 months ago

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Brett McCabe

Actually, in four years, when we flip all three branches, we'll have universal care, so it will be a moot point. Might as well take the money while it's there now.

4 months ago

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