Kansas Mental
Health Coalition


  • January 15, 2015 5:35 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    By Peter Hancock

    January 14, 2015, 5:36 p.m. Updated January 14, 2015, 10:12 p.m.


     — Kansas hospital officials told a legislative committee Wednesday that they face tremendous economic challenges if the state does not expand Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

    "We’re in the roughest time we’ve ever been in," said Dennis Franks, CEO of Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute.

    Franks was among several people who testified Wednesday before the House Vision 2020 Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence. That committee is generally charged with conducting long-term studies of issues that normally don't get the attention they need in a regular 90-day session, Sloan said.

    Sloan said he hopes to develop a "Kansas solution" for expanding Medicaid that will pass the conservative-dominated Legislature.

    But the hearings began barely two months after a general election, when many Republicans campaigned on their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. And as soon as the hearings began GOP House leaders quickly started pushing back.

    "That's not a health committee," said House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, when asked whether he would allow a Medicaid expansion bill to be debated on the floor of the House. "We have committees where that stuff goes through."

    But Sloan appeared to be trying to win over support from conservative lawmakers by focusing the first hearing on the impact that not expanding Medicaid has on rural hospitals.

    Franks said his hospital serves about 42,000 people in a four-county area in southeast Kansas where 12.5 percent of the population is uninsured and 32 percent of all children live in poverty. He said the cost of providing charity and uncompensated care at Neosho runs about $1.4 million a year.

    “It is a battle out there," Franks said. "We are under siege from the federal government, and from state government.”

    The problem for Neosho hospital, and for many rural hospitals, officials said, is that the Affordable Care Act is financed in part with a reduction in hospital payments from Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly.

    That was supposed to be offset by increasing the number of people with insurance, through expanded Medicaid and subsidized private insurance sold through exchange markets, thus lowering the amount of money hospitals lose through uncompensated or charity care.

    Under the law, the federal government pays almost all of the cost of covering those who become eligible for Medicaid due to the expansion.

    The Kansas Hospital Association has estimated that Kansas will forgo $380 million in federal funding this year by not expanding Medicaid.

    The law originally required states to expand Medicaid — the joint state and federal insurance program for the poor — to cover everyone in households with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. But the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that provision and said that Congress could only make Medicaid expansion optional for states.

    Kansas is one of 22 states that so far have declined to expand their Medicaid programs.

    Mike Larkin, executive director of the Kansas Pharmacists Association, said the ruling has divided the country into what he called the "have states" and "have-not states." In the have-not states like Kansas, he said, hospitals are seeing the reduced Medicare reimbursements, but they are not seeing an increase in patients who have health insurance.

    Chad Austin, a lobbyist for the Kansas Hospital Association, said rural hospitals are hit especially hard by that because a larger share of their patients are covered by Medicare.

    "We have an older population, more elderly population, that has some different challenges associated with that," Austin said.

    Rep. Barbara Bollier, a moderate Republican from Mission Hills and a physician, said she thinks a Medicaid expansion bill could pass this year if it's presented in a way that conservatives might accept.

    "We have a budget crisis. Expanding Medicaid would actually help that. So in the end, I think this will have to be part of the discussion.

    Freshman Rep. Shannon Francis, R-Liberal, said expanding Medicaid might be good for the hospitals in his district, but he's not sure whether voters in that conservative part of southwest Kansas are ready to accept it.

    "I'm not sure there's a consensus yet in my community," Francis said.

  • December 05, 2014 5:21 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    By Bryan Thompson | December 05, 2014,   KHI News Service

    Premiums in the federal health insurance marketplace are slightly higher, on average, for 2015 than last year — but not for the "benchmark" plan in Kansas.

    A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the cost of the so-called “benchmark” silver plan is up an average of 2 percent in 35 states across the nation. But in Kansas, the benchmark plan cost is actually an average of 5 percent lower for 2015.


    Health Plan Choice and Premiums in the 2015 Health Insurance Marketplace

    Download .PDF

    Kansas Insurance Department spokesman Bob Hanson said that’s because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas has added a HMO marketplace plan with premiums lower than last year’s benchmark plan.

    “Last year’s lowest benchmark silver plan is now the second lowest in premium for this year,” he said. “Coverages are the same, however.”


    Issue Brief: Kansas Marketplace Opens for Year Two

    Download .PDF

    These figures don’t include tax credits that almost eight in 10 Kansas customers qualified for last year. HHS officials said that with those tax credits, most customers can find coverage for $100 a month or less, out-of-pocket, if they shop around.

    Five companies are selling plans in Kansas this year, compared to four last year. With 25 percent more issuers participating in the marketplace in 2015, based on analysis of 35 states, more than 90 percent of consumers nationwide will be able to choose from three or more issuers — up from 74 percent in 2014.

    Open enrollment in the marketplace continues through Feb. 15, 2015. But consumers, including those who currently have coverage through the marketplace, need to enroll or re-enroll by Dec. 15 in order to have coverage effective on Jan. 1, 2015.

    - See more at: http://www.khi.org/news/article/kansas-average-benchmark-plan-cost-lower-2015#sthash.JVlw86N3.dpuf 

  • November 04, 2014 8:33 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)


    Hopefully, you have already been involved in local campaigns, showed up to your candidate’s fundraiser and thanked him or her for caring about mental health issues.  This morning, you got up a little early, walked out the door past the campaign signs posted in your yard, and dropped by your local polling place on the way to work.  The “I Voted” sticker on your lapel shows that you are way ahead of the game.

    No?  Well, it is not too late to support the policymakers who have supported you.  MAKE IT COUNT!  With the polls running very close in a number of races, your vote matters.

    Here are a few hints to help you cast your vote.  Remember, the choices of our elected officials WILL impact your life.  And, as always, if you have any questions at all, about voting or about your local candidates - please do not hesitate to call me at 785-969-1617.

    The Kansas polling places opened at 7:00 a.m. and will close at 7:00 p.m.

    Click this link https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/RegistrantSearch.do   for important information from the Secretary of State’s office – everything you need to know about your ballot!

    Simply enter your county, name and birthdate to see the address of your polling place, the districts you live in, and your voting history.  Under Sample Ballots, click on the underlined color letters of your precinct ballot.  You can see all of the choices you will make in the voting booth. 

    Now that you have all the information you need – GO VOTE!  And, by the way, it isn’t too late to call your local candidate and tell them you are supporting them.  They’ve been working very hard and a good word is always appreciated.  See the House of Representatives candidates list attached.

    BRING YOUR PHOTO ID:  Info from the KS Secretary of State's website.

    Starting January 1, 2012, Kansas voters must show photographic identification when casting a vote in person. If the photo ID has an expiration date on it, the ID must not have expired at the time of voting. An acceptable photo ID does not have to have an expiration date on the document in order to be valid. Persons age 65 or older may use expired photo ID documents. Acceptable forms of photo ID are:

    ·         A driver's license or nondriver's identification card issued by Kansas or by another state or district of the United States

    ·         A concealed carry of handgun license issued by Kansas or a concealed carry of handgun or weapon license issued by another state or district of the United States

    ·         A United States passport

    ·         An employee badge or identification document issued by a municipal, county, state, or federal government office

    ·         A military identification document issued by the United States

    ·         A student identification card issued by an accredited postsecondary institution of education in the state of Kansas

    ·         A public assistance identification card issued by a municipal, county, state or federal government office

    ·         An identification card issued by an Indian tribe

    More information about Photo ID and how to obtain free photo ID or voter ID – go to : http://www.gotvoterid.com/valid-photo-ids.html#idlist   This won’t help you get an ID today, but you can cast a provisional ballot today and provide an ID to the election clerk before the county canvass.       



    One more note – there is a constitutional amendment on the ballot regarding charitable raffles.  Currently, raffles of any kind are illegal in Kansas unless they are crafted in a way that gets around the letter of the law (i.e. doesn’t require purchase of an entry, or is somehow based on skill).  These loopholes are a convoluted way to get around our constitutional prohibition against lotteries (state lottery exempted of course).  KMHC has no official position on the issue.

    Click here for information from the Department of Revenue about the ballot question    

  • September 16, 2014 11:38 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    9-16-14 (TOPEKA) – Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Secretary Kari Bruffett announced today the funding of several projects to expand the number of Kansas law enforcement officers and those in related fields that are trained to deal appropriately with individuals experiencing mental health crises.

    “Some of the most significant recommendations made by the Governor’s Mental Health Task Force address the way law enforcement officers interact with the mentally ill,” Secretary Bruffett said. “The task force emphasized the need for front-line responders to receive instruction in the most effective ways to interact with individuals who suffer from mental illness. In the communities that this training has already occurred, law enforcement and corrections personnel report that it makes a huge difference in way these situations are resolved. ”

    The projects were developed as a response to recommendations made by the Kansas Governor’s Mental Health Task Force and with the guidance of the Kansas Governor’s Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Advisory Council.
    In May, Governor Sam Brownback outlined his administration’s plans for strengthening the delivery of behavioral health services in Kansas. One of the initiatives he announced was the creation of the Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Advisory Council, consisting of Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Secretary Ray Roberts, Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter, and Topeka Police Department Captain Bill Cochran. The council serves in an advisory capacity to review future community grants aimed at helping to keep individuals in the community and out of jails, prisons, and state hospitals. Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and Mental Health First Aid training is a part of that effort aimed at education for front-line responders.

    Read the press release.

  • September 02, 2014 11:13 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)
    Procedure to consider changes to the Consensus Recommendations - KMHC will consider amendments proposed by Coalition members at the October, November and December meetings.  Please review the current Recommendations here.  Please review the current Issue Papers here.  If your proposed amendment is a simple update to current language, please draft the amendment as it would be inserted into the current document.  If it is a new topic or action item, please draft an Issue Proposal Paper - see format here - and submit to KMHC at this link by the Friday before the meeting.

  • August 31, 2014 12:31 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    Governor Brownback has issued a proclamation declaring September 7-13, 2014, Suicide Prevention Week.

  • August 25, 2014 8:07 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    State ranks 47th worst for use of powerful drugs to control behavior of residents with dementia

     Mike Shields, KHI News Service, Aug. 25, 2014

     undefined Experts say powerful antipsychotic drugs undefined sometimes given in combination undefined are used too much and often inappropriately as “chemical restraints” or sedatives to control the behavior of Kansas nursing home residents suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and that efforts to curb the practice so far are showing weak results compared with other states.

    “Kansas is pretty far outside the norm, clearly, of what is happening in the rest of the nation,” said Mitzi McFatrich, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, a Lawrence-based group that champions improved conditions in nursing homes.

    Kansas was 47th worst among the states and the District of Columbia in a recent rankings report published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which in 2012 launched a national initiative to reduce the use of antipsychotics for dementia in nursing home residents. The effort came after a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General raised concerns about too frequent “off-label” prescription of the drugs, which can have harmful, sometimes fatal, side effects.

    Read more.

  • August 20, 2014 12:27 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    Rick Hoffmeister, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, will provide information about the new KanCare Health Homes project focusing on adults with serious mental illness. 

    KanCare Health Homes website:  http://www.kancare.ks.gov/health_home.htm

    Kansas Health Homes:  Quick Facts   http://www.kancare.ks.gov/health_home/download/Health_Homes_Quick_Facts.pdf

    Health Homes Herald - August Newsletter:  Read Here.

  • August 06, 2014 7:55 AM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    Kansas primary elections were held on Tuesday, August 5.  The primaries determine who will represent Democrat and Republican parties in the General Election November 4 – if there are candidates from more than one party on the ballot.

    Most current legislators were able to retain their positions Tuesday, except for three legislators from the House of Representatives.  In District 50, Rep. Josh Powell (R-Topeka)  lost his position as the Republican nominee to Fred Patton.  The difference was less than 50 votes and the race wasn’t final until the provisional ballots are counted.  The winner will face Chris Huntsman (D) in the general election.

    In District 65, Rep. Allan Rothlisberg (R-Junction City) lost the nomination to Lonnie Clark, who will run against Tom Brungardt (D) in the general election.  In District 93, Rep. Joe Edwards (R-Wichita) lost the nomination to John Whitmer, who will run against Sammy Flaharty (D) in the general election.

    There were two State Senate races determined on Tuesday.  Richard Wilborn (R-McPherson) will serve District 35 after winning a five-person primary race to replace Senator Clark Shultz, who ran for Insurance Commissioner.  Former Rep. Marshall Christmann, R-Lyons, placed third in that race.

    Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, defeated Charlotte O’Hara (former Representative) to retain the senate seat for District 37.  Baumgardner had been appointed to replace Senator Pat Apple, who was appointed to the Kansas Corporation Commission.

    The top statewide office-holders were able to hold onto their Republican nominations, but many news outlets are suggesting that the vote counts were close enough to indicate some voter dissatisfaction with these incumbents.  Governor Brownback / Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer defeated Jennifer Winn with 63% of the vote.  Congressman Mike Pompeo beat Todd Tiahrt with 63%.  Senator Pat Roberts beat challenger Milton Wolf in a three-way race with only 48%.  Congressman Tim Huelskamp beat his challenger with 55% of the vote. 

    Republican Ken Selzer won the primary race for Insurance Commissioner and will represent the Republican Party in the general election in November.  There were five candidates in the race, including former Representative and (for a short time) Senator Clark Shultz.  Shultz chaired the House Insurance Committee for many years, but placed third in the race.

    For more information about the candidates, see the attached report which has several spreadsheets detailing the races – including primary results and general election information.  It is color-coded, with the explanation in the first row.

    Now is a great time to reach out and congratulate your local winners.  If there is a general election pending, be sure to offer your support to friendly candidates through financial contributions, hosting fundraisers or meet-and-greet events, and posting campaign signs on your property.

    For more information, contact KMHC by clicking here

  • June 23, 2014 10:39 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

    Concern, hope surround mental health funding


    LJWorld.com   June 23, 2014     by Scott Rothschild

    For years, under mental health reform, state funding was provided for low-income Kansans who didn’t qualify for Medicaid. But during the Great Recession, the grant funding to the community mental health centers was cut by 65 percent, or $20 million since 2008.

    Kansas’ system of addressing mental health issues continues to deal with funding problems and the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid, mental health advocates say.

    But they also say there are bright spots on the horizon.

    “We are taking some small steps forward,” said David Wiebe, president of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.

    “But like so many things in the public arena, it boils down to funding, and clearly there is not enough money to meet the needs,” Wiebe said.

    The 27 Community Mental Health Centers treat about 120,000 people each year.

    But most of those people, 85,000, have neither Medicaid nor other health insurance.

    For years, under mental health reform, state funding was provided for low-income Kansans who didn’t qualify for Medicaid. But during the Great Recession, the grant funding to the community mental health centers was cut by 65 percent, or $20 million since 2008.

    A recent report by Gov. Sam Brownback’s task force on mental health said that while the state must hold the mental health system accountable with specific performance measures, it also must “ensure adequate funding is present to carry out these key tasks.”

    In response to the report, Brownback announced a $9.5 million initiative that he said would strengthen the delivery of mental health services in the state.

    Wiebe and others in the mental health community applauded the initiative as a promising start.

    “It’s very encouraging that the governor is placing a focus on mental health,” said Wiebe.

    He was particularly pleased that the plan includes $1 million for the mental health centers to provide crisis services and programs to the uninsured.

    But that is one-time funding and will be the subject of appropriations battles in years to come to continue it, he said.

    The task force report, however, was silent on the political touchy subject of expanding Medicaid.

    Currently in Kansas, parents cannot make more than $9,063 a year for a family of four to qualify for Medicaid, and in most cases, childless adults cannot qualify even if they have no income.

    But under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, states can expand Medicaid eligibility and the federal government will pay for it for three years, and pay no less than 90 percent of the cost after that.

    Brownback, a Republican and ardent opponent of the ACA, and the Republican-dominated Legislature have rejected Medicaid expansion, saying they don’t trust the federal government to pay for the bulk of it. Kansas is one of 19 states not moving forward on expanding Medicaid under the ACA.

    Recently, Brownback said more alternatives to the ACA are needed.

    “I think there are going to be more options coming out. I think as this wears on, and people have difficulty with it, and the cost structure is so high, you’ll see more options open up,” Brownback said.

    Asked if he was noting how some other states, including those led by Republican governors, were negotiating different ways to expand Medicaid, Brownback said, “We’re watching all of it, if there is a way to do it. I am more confident today than I’ve ever been that there will be other options out there by as malleable as the Obama administration has been on every other piece of Obamacare.”

    But Brownback said his primary focus on health care has been the startup of KanCare, his privatization of the state’s Medicaid program.

    Mental health advocates say failing to expand Medicaid under the ACA is a wasted opportunity.

    “That (expansion of Medicaid) is probably the biggest single thing that would help the mental health system and go a long way to providing coverage to the bulk of low income Kansans,” Wiebe said.

    Kyle Kessler, executive director of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, said he recently went to a national conference and every person he spoke to from a state that had expanded Medicaid eligibility expressed no regrets. “It makes a lot of sense to have a payer source for every patient,” Kessler said.

    Both Kessler and Wiebe, however, said they were pleased with other recent mental health developments, particularly the transformation of the Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City, Kan., from a more long-term inpatient facility to a crisis stabilization center, which started operating last month.

    Officials say this will enable people who show excessive behaviors to receive quicker treatment and connect them faster to community services. The facility will be run by Wyandot Center, the community mental health center in Kansas City, Kan.

    “It is a go-to place for law enforcement and people in the community,” said Amy Campbell, a lobbyist for the Kansas Mental Health Coalition. “You can get screened for what you need and hopefully they can get directly into the kinds of services that you need. The idea is that it will provide the right services for people at the right time. It gives law enforcement an option to take them there instead of jail,” she said,

    Failing to provide care for people who need it will, in many cases, just leads to higher costs down the road in the criminal justice system.

    Nearly one-third of inmates in the state prison system have been diagnosed with mental illness, and nearly one in five are being treated with psychotropic medications, according to state corrections officials.

    One of the initiatives in Brownback’s plan includes $500,000 in community grants to help divert people with mental health problems from jails and prisons.

    And another part of the plan will take $7 million from reserves in a program designed to provide temporary cash assistance to the needy and use those funds for programs aimed at helping families that are experiencing mental health problems, administration officials said.

    Wiebe said helping families is crucial. “Working to help at-risk families, that is where it all begins,” he said.

    Another area of hope in the mental health community is the proposal by KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, to start providing “health homes” for people with mental illness. This will provide both mental and physical health care for people out of a central location. “This is to make sure you are getting served as a whole person,” Campbell said.

    Campbell said she was optimistic about the future for mental health services in Kansas.

    “I feel like we are right on the edge of something good. There are many evidence-based practices that we know that will work, and hopefully we can reverse this trend of contraction that started in 2008,” she said.

(c) Kansas Mental Health Coalition, P.O. Box 4744, Topeka, KS  66604  785-969-1617

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