Report examines health reform's likely impact on states

A new national analysis echoes an earlier one prepared for Kansas but covers all 50 states

0 | Health Reform, Medicaid-CHIP

— The Medicaid expansion included in the new federal health reform means more than 17 million low-income people across the nation will gain health coverage by 2019 and the federal government will pick up the "overwhelming majority" of the costs, according to a national report released today.

"For a relatively small investment of state dollars, states could see huge returns in terms of additional coverage for their lowest income residents with federal dollars covering the bulk of the bill," said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, which prepared the analysis in tandem with the Urban Institute.

According to the report, Kansas by 2019 would see an increase in new Medicaid enrollees ranging from 143,445 to 192,006 people, depending on how aggressively state officials and others promote enrollment. If enrollment increased by the higher number, the cost between 2014 and 2019 would be $4.2 billion of which the federal government would absorb about 94 percent. The state's share would be about $260 million over the same period.

By 2019, after federal reform aid is scheduled to recede, Kansas could expect a 2.6 percent increase over its projected Medicaid spending had the reform not become law, according to the report.

Currently, about 335,000 Kansans are thought to be without health insurance.

The Kaiser report focused solely on the ramifications of the Medicaid expansion.

The Kaiser findings for Kansas were similar to those in a report released last week by the Kansas Health Policy Authority. That report forecast about 190,000 new Kansas enrollees but its authors, actuaries at the consulting firm schramm-raleigh Health Strategy, Inc., concluded that state Medicaid spending would be "relatively flat," by 2020 as result of the federal reform and could decrease, if policymakers decided because of the enhanced federal role and the expanded coverage that the state no longer needed to spend as much on safety net services as it currently does.