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Committee proposes Medicaid Expansion Bill - CJOnline

February 09, 2015 1:31 PM | Anonymous
Republican-controlled committee offers Medicaid expansion bill

Beneficiaries could be required to work, under proposal 

Posted: February 9, 2015 - 10:37am By Jonathan Shorman jonathan.shorman@cjonline.com 

A Republican-controlled House committee put forward legislation Monday to expand Medicaid in Kansas, offering a proposal that would use no state general funds but could require recipients to either work or volunteer. 

The legislation expands the KanCare program – the state’s managed care program – to include individuals earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s the income threshold that will allow Kansas to receive additional federal funding to help pay for part of the cost of expansion. 

The legislation sets out to help extend coverage to approximately 169,000 people, and collect about $2.2 billion federal funds between 2016 and 2020. 

A number of moderate Republicans sit on the House Vision 2020 Committee, which put forward the bill after hearings on Medicaid expansion. The committee chairman, Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said the legislation attempts to balance the “political realities” within the state through the a requirement in addition to financial realities.

“It balances the need to pay for this expanded service without going into the state general fund because there is no money there,” Sloan said. 

Sloan said he hopes the bill is referred to a House Appropriations subcommittee that will keep the discussion going and the bill alive. 

The proposal works by establishing a health care administrative support fee on hospitals, safety net clinics and other recipients of federal or state health care reimbursements to help pay for it. 

The secretary of health and environment would also be tasked with creating a concierge-like statewide pilot program for KanCare beneficiaries and promoting tele-health monitoring for individuals with chronic conditions and individuals with disabilities.

The plan also calls for health care outcomes to be analyzed quarterly by the KU Medical Center to identifying the most successful patient treatment, monitoring and education programs in improving cost-effectiveness in terms of health outcomes. 

In addition, the secretary would be allowed -- but not mandated -- to require a work component for ablebodies beneficiaries. The work could include volunteering. 

Sloan said the bill directs the administration to seek any necessary federal waivers to allow the state to receive additional federal funding. Sloan said he has spoken with the federal Health and Human Services Administration about the plan. “They were very pleased that the Legislature is looking at expanding,” Sloan said. 

Sean Gatewood with the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition indicated he is receptive to the proposal. Gatewood said he appreciated any opportunity that creates conversation about insuring more Kansans. He said he is still getting up to speed on all the details, but did express some concern about potential work requirements and how they would interact with federal regulations. “So I’ve got some questions as to if that would work, things like that. But any attempt I’m extremely grateful for. Getting a new bill in the hopper makes a good day for me,” Gatewood said. 

The proposal comes after Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, introduced his own plan last month to expand Medicaid. The Democratic proposal is unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-dominated Legislature. Rep. Pam Curtis, D-Kansas City, is the ranki

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