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Feb. 18, 2013
TOPEKA A study released today by the Kansas Hospital Association says that expanding Medicaid eligibility to levels called for in the federal health reform law would pump more than $3 billion into the state’s economy and create 4,000 new jobs by 2020.
The study, done for the association by the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University and Regional Economic Models, Inc., also shows that expansion would save the state more than it would cost.
Tom Bell, the association’s chief executive, said the projected economic benefits were too significant to be ignored by Gov. Sam Brownback and legislative leaders as they consider whether or not to expand eligibility for the healthcare program that serves poor, elderly and disabled Kansans.
Brownback has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act but has not made a decision on Medicaid expansion, which was made optional for states as the result of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the law.
“I think from our perspective, it’s not unlike the state landing a huge federal contract,” Bell said.
The impact of the expansion on the Kansas economy could rival that of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Bell said.
“That’s the way we look at it, as an opportunity for our state,” he said.
Since Jan. 1 in Kansas, the Medicaid program has operated under the name of KanCare. Three health insurance companies are under contract with the state administer it.
The health reform law requires that the federal government cover state costs of expanding Medicaid for three years. After that, the federal share would recede gradually until it reaches 90 percent, where it would remain.
Currently, Kansas’ Medicaid eligibility criteria for adults are among the most restrictive in the nation. Only those with children are eligible and only then if they earn less than 32 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPF) — currently $5,900 a year for a family of four.
Because those numbers are so low, expanding Medicaid would have a bigger impact in Kansas than in many other states by making all Kansans who earn up to 133 percent of FPL — $30,660 for a family of four — eligible for the program.
Various estimates suggest that expansion could add between 226,000 and 240,000 Kansans to the 380,000 now enrolled in Medicaid.
A Kansas Department of Health and Environment report released last week estimated Medicaid costs would climb by $513 million over 10 years regardless of whether the state expanded eligibility for the program. That’s because heightened attention surrounding the expansion issue is expected to prompt many people who already are eligible but not enrolled to sign up.
Covering only those who are made eligible by the expansion would cost another $600 million over 10 years, the KDHE report said. Even so, the hospital association report said that expanding Medicaid would produce a net savings to the state of $82 million from 2014 to 2020.
“That’s front loaded into those first three years, but it’s still a substantial net benefit,” Bell said.
Brownback has not ruled out expansion but neither has his administration shown much, if any, enthusiasm for the idea. Reacting to the KDHE cost estimate, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, the governor’s chief spokesperson, said expanding Medicaid would affect the state’s ability to fund other “core responsibilities.” The impact would be even greater “if the federal government fails to keep its promise to pay for its part of the expansion,” she said.
Bell said administrators at the association’s 126 member hospitals understand Brownback’s concerns, which are shared by many legislators. But he said they believe the Medicaid expansion dollars are needed to offset the anticipated loss of other federal funds that hospitals have used to cover the cost of caring for the uninsured.
“From an economic perspective for our members — especially those that treat a higher number of uninsured — they think it makes great sense to take a serious look this and see if we can make it work,” Bell said.
→ CMS won’t penalize hospitals in states slow to expand Medicaid (5/14/13)
→ Insurer Centene: We can do Arkansas-style Medicaid (5/14/13)
→ The Arkansas Medicaid Model: What you need to know about the 'private option' (5/2/13)
→ Nothing to be done about coverage gap in states not expanding Medicaid, feds say (4/29/13)
→ Brownback says he's listening to Medicaid expansion proponents, opponents (4/5/13)
→ Oregon shows costs of putting Medicaid enrollees in private coverage (3/29/13)
→ Governor urged to expand Medicaid eligibility (3/27/13)
→ Arkansas Medicaid expansion attracts other states' interest (3/26/13)
→ Senate president prefers options remain open on Medicaid expansion (3/25/13)
→ States urged to expand Medicaid with private insurance (3/22/13)
→ Senate budget amendment underscores opposition to Medicaid expansion (3/21/13)
→ Study: Kansas employers face millions a year in possible penalties without Medicaid expansion (3/15/13)
→ More than 30 Kansas groups pushing for Medicaid expansion (3/12/13)
→ Health insurers see big opportunities in health law’s Medicaid expansion (3/8/13)
→ Medicaid expansion supporters to step up lobbying efforts (3/7/13)
→ Budget committee hears resolution opposing Medicaid expansion (2/22/13)
→ Legislators focusing on Medicaid expansion cost estimates (2/19/13)
→ Kansas hospital group study predicts expanding Medicaid would generate 4,000 jobs (2/18/13)
→ Brownback officials release their cost projections for Medicaid expansion (2/8/13)
→ Medicaid expansion bill introduced (1/22/13)
→ Kansas hospitals worried about loss of dollars for charity care (1/14/13)
→ Brownback compiling own estimate of Medicaid expansion cost (12/20/12)
→ Group urges Brownback to expand Medicaid eligibility (11/9/12)
→ Debate begins on possible Kansas Medicaid expansion (10/25/12)
→ Amerigroup CEO says states ‘need’ to go along with Medicaid expansion (7/11/12)
→ Kansas hospitals ready to get on with federal health reform, spokesman says (7/2/12)
→ Kansas AG claims partial victory in health reform case (6/29/12)
→ High court upholds Affordable Care Act, but ruling puts limits on Medicaid expansion (6/28/12)
→ Kansas Hospital Association: An opportunity for the Kansas Medicaid program
→ Americans for Prosperity-Kansas: Well-intentioned policies do more harm than good
→ Health Reform Resource Project: The cost of not expanding Medicaid
→ Rep. Jim Ward: Medicaid expansion essential for healthier Kansas
→ Rep. David Crum: Reasons for opposing Medicaid expansion
→ National Academy for State Health Policy: Much ado about Arkansas: Medicaid in the insurance exchange
→ Full health reform coverage
→ Full Medicaid coverage
The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy making environment. Find more about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 783-2529.