Blog: The Kansas Budget Problems and Cuts Prove a Risk to Medicaid

July 11, 2016  |  Blog, Foundation News

It’s been no secret that the Kansas budget issues have been troubling.

From the legislation putting forward an unbalanced budget to the Administration enacting $56 million in cuts to KanCare alone, the budget has been top of mind for many Kansans. Poor revenue returns for May and June have deepened the concern about more cuts in the future.

Budget cuts almost never bode well, and with ongoing budget difficulties and questions about the adequacy of K-12 education funding still putting pressure on lawmakers, many are worried that more decreases are coming to the allotments for Medicaid and other public health services.

At REACH, our goal is to achieve health equity by reducing barriers to coverage and care. These efforts are focused into three outcomes that we use to guide our actions. With the latest cut in the state’s Medicaid program, the steps we and our partners have taken toward closing the coverage gap are threatened.

Throughout the 2016 Kansas Legislative session, health care advocates, health care professionals, and concerned Kansans have repeatedly told the legislature that they strongly oppose bills that erode funding for health services. REACH’s President and CEO Brenda Sharpe expressed her concerns in a recent Message from the CEO, as did the Kansas Grantmakers in Health through a letter sent to Governor Brownback and the Legislature before the start of the 2016 Legislative session.

Kansans have been making their opposition to Medicaid cuts known, and yet they are still being made.

The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, a new advocacy organization that aims to educate the public about KanCare expansion and put pressure on elected leaders to support a solution, has been holding forums around the state to build support for health issues. Advocates packed a statehouse committee room in May to voice their discontent with elected leaders’ lack of action on KanCare expansion. From clergy to students to health care professionals, a broad range of people spoke about the community health and economic benefits of expanding KanCare and called on elected leaders to act on the opportunity. Several forums have been held and at least five other gatherings are planned for July, including on Monday, July 11, in Johnson County.

Many healthcare professionals point to the federal funding that would come with Medicaid expansion as a possible solution. The Kansas Grantmakers in Health last year commissioned a Manatt Health Solutions study that examined the impact of expanding Medicaid on the state budget. The study found that not only would the expansion be budget neutral, it was likely to bring in more revenue than it consumed, adding to revenue savings that Kansas needs.

The Kansas budget issue is complex, and expanding Medicaid is more than just a way to alleviate some of those issues. If you want to read more about how Medicaid expansion affects budgets, the Kaiser Family Foundation hosts archives of budget surveys for all 50 states. They have also conducted a study analyzing the costs of Medicaid spending compared to the costs of other private insurers. These are just two of the many pieces analyzing Medicaid expansion; there are many more available on the Kaiser Family Foundation website.

We encourage everyone to become informed on the issue and consider attending one of the upcoming Alliance events. You also can find out more about the REACH Healthcare Foundation’s approach to closing the coverage gap and other efforts at our website.