KHI News Service

Another Affordable Care Act grant comes to Kansas

By KHI NEWS SERVICE | September 22, 2011

Federal officials said today that they are giving Kansas another Affordable Care Act grant.

The $1.1 million award is designated to help pay for social workers and nurses to visit the homes of "at-risk" families with the goal of improving maternal and child health.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the agency had applied for the grant.

This latest ACA grant to Kansas is part of $224 million being awarded to states across the country.

"Home visiting programs play a critical role in the nation's efforts to help children get off to a strong start. Parenting is a tough job, and helping parents succeed pays big dividends in a child's well-being and healthy development," said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grant is a so-called "formula award," as opposed to a "competitive" award, which means Kansas did not compete for the money. ACA formula awards are based on a variety of factors, such as population and disease risk in a particular state or jurisdiction.

The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback has rejected or declined to apply for some major grants available to Kansas through the federal health reform law, saying there were too many strings attached.

Brownback officials have previously said that ACA grants would be reviewed "case-by-case."

KDHE prepared an application for an ACA-funded Community Transformation Grant intended to help prevent chronic illness, but then did not submit it after KDHE Secretary Dr. Robert Moser concluded it would require the agency to hire three additional people to administer it. The decision became public knowledge only after the application deadline had passed, to the consternation of many local health officials.

Brownback last month rejected a $31.5 million, ACA-funded health insurance exchange "innovator grant," saying it had too many requirements.

That decision sparked criticism from some health industry officials working on an exchange planning work group formed by the Kansas Insurance Department. It also drew flak from some legislators, who said the administration had squandered an opportunity.