Hospital association poll shows most Kansans support Medicaid expansion

0 | Health Reform, Medicaid-CHIP

— A majority of Kansans support expanding Medicaid to help low-income people gain health coverage, according to a poll done in December for the Kansas Hospital Association and released this week.

According to the survey results, 60 percent of the state's residents would support expanding Medicaid to include persons earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – $15,420. Expansion was opposed by 24 percent of those surveyed and 16 percent said they weren’t sure.

Kansas currently has one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the nation. Generally, it covers pregnant women, children, the elderly and the disabled who are poor. Adults without children are not eligible regardless how little they make.

The survey, which sampled views of 610 Kansans, was conducted for the hospital association by the ETC Institute of Olathe. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Support for expansion increased slightly to 62 percent when those polled were told that it would increase federal Medicaid spending in the state by $800 million over three years. But that additional 2 percent is considered negligible given that it is within the survey’s margin of error.

More than 70 percent said that keeping federal Medicaid dollars from going to other states was a good reason to expand the program in Kansas.

Tom Bell, the hospital association’s chief executive, said if the state doesn’t expand Medicaid it would result in “real cuts to hospitals that are currently serving as the primary safety net for many uninsured individuals.”

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Photo courtesy Kansas Hospital Association

Tom Bell, president and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association.

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As originally passed, the federal Affordable Care Act would have required all states to expand their Medicaid programs. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law made the expansion optional for states.

Several Republican governors who oppose the federal health reform law have nevertheless announced recently that their states will implement the Medicaid expansion.

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who also opposed the law, has not made a decision about opening up the program, but has questioned whether the federal government can be trusted to keep its funding promises. The law requires the federal government to shoulder expansion costs for three years. After that, the federal share would gradually drop to 90 percent, where it would remain.

The Brownback administration has estimated that the state’s share of those expansion costs would total approximately $600 million from 2014 to 2023. However, the same estimate predicts that state Medicaid costs would go up by approximately $513 million over the same period even if it doesn’t expand eligibility. That would happen, the report says, because more Kansans who already are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled would become aware of the program and sign up.

Last week, the hospital association kicked-off its lobbying campaign in support of Medicaid expansion by releasing its own report, which estimated the expansion would increase federal spending in Kansas by $3 billion by 2020 and create 4,000 new jobs.

The Legislature hasn’t acted on the expansion issue, yet. There has been a bill introduced that would authorize it but there also is a resolution being considered that states the will of the Legislature is to oppose it.

KHI News Service coverage of Medicaid expansion

Medicaid Access Coalition launches online "ticker" showing foregone federal dollars (2/13/14)
→ KHI report: Nearly 182,000 Kansans in the ‘Eligibility Gap’ (1/11/14)
House speaker says Medicaid expansion is "up to the governor" (1/10/14)
KS Senate president says Medicaid expansion unlikely to gain approval this session (1/7/14)
Profiles of the coverage gap: Kathleen Christian (1/6/14)
Efforts continue to expand Medicaid in Kansas and Missouri (1/6/14)
Hospital association hires former Bush HHS secretary to help craft a plan Kansas Republicans might support (12/23/13)
Iowa wins approval to expand Medicaid by using federal funds to buy private insurance (12/11/13)
White House officials hold call to urge Medicaid expansion in Kansas (11/21/13)
Republican governor talks up plan to expand Medicaid — his way (10/28/13)
Challenger says Brownback owes voters a decision on Medicaid expansion (10/22/13)
Nearly 5.2M Americans fall in coverage gap in states not expanding Medicaid (10/16/13)
Sebelius: Feds flexible on how states expand Medicaid (9/22/13)
Sebelius says Kansas and Missouri are missing the boat on Medicaid expansion (9/20/13)
Medicaid expansion coalition finds strength in numbers (9/17/13)
Republican Gov. Corbett proposes expanding Pennsylvania Medicaid (9/16/13)
Kansas lawmakers urged to consider Medicaid expansion by Wesley CEO (8/29/13)
Estimating maneuver could help more people gain from Obamacare: How the poor might qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies in states that don't expand Medicaid (8/12/13)
Report: States not expanding Medicaid stand to benefit most from doing so (7/18/13)
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)

Commentary
→ 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

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