Kansas senators reject Medicaid expansion in narrow vote

Dollar bill with a hole in Washington's face on it and the word "Medicaid" in its place
Medicaid expansion was defeated by one vote in Kansas' Senate, plus more Medicaid headlines. (zimmytws/GettyImages)

A push for Medicaid expansion will not make it out of the current legislative session, as the Kansas Senate narrowly voted down bringing the bill to the floor.

According to Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, the policy is not ready as it is and needs more work. Introduced by Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, the legislation previously passed in the House but was one vote shy of taking the bill out of committee and onto the Senate floor, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The consensus was that the plan could be considered next year, when the current session has ended and members can give it more attention.

Studies out of Kansas predict that Medicaid expansion would add 130,000 children and adults to the KanCare program and add about $50 million onto the state budget.

Democrats will likely try another avenue to get the bill to the floor including an expansion into an appropriations bill.

Here are some other Medicaid headlines from this week:

North Carolina hospitals call for Medicaid expansion

Seven CEOs of rural North Carolina hospitals met at a roundtable this week in support of expanding Medicaid, according to an article from North Carolina Health News.

Sitting down with Gov. Roy Cooper and state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, the CEOs explained how they were operating on thin margins due to a heavy volume of emergency department visits.

Though the hospitals agreed the Medicaid expansion would not solve problems immediately, they do believe it would contribute to a healthier patient population over time. 

“We can talk about the present, but we really need to talk about where we are going to be in three to five years,” Chris Lumsden, CEO of Northern Hospital of Surry County, said. “This issue is monumental to us. [Medicaid expansion] is something we can do today that will impact patient care and economic development down the road.”

GOP plans to throw out Medicaid expansion from Wisconsin's budget

Wisconsin Republican lawmakers plan to remove part of Gov. Tony Evers’ state budget next week, including his plans to expand Medicaid.

Republicans say cuts are necessary because, as is, the budget would start with a $2 billion structural deficit, the Journal Sentinel reported. Democrats countered by saying that contributing to the Medicaid program, BadgerCare Plus, would extend coverage to 82,000 more people and free up $324 million in state funds over two years.

But the governor will not give up and plans to pursue the items removed from the budget as separate legislation.

Ohio trying to slow growth of Medicaid costs

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is looking for ways to slow down the rapidly growing costs of the state’s Medicaid. For 2020, the budget calls for a rise in Medicaid to $28.2 billion and $29.4 billion in 2021, an increase of 4% and 4.6%, Ohio Watchdog reports.

The state will be responsible for $5.5 billion of that cost in 2020 as the federal government reduces its rate for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a cut in the reimbursement rate for the expansion population.

Almost 90% of Ohio’s Medicaid recipients participate in a managed care program, a place where the state sees room to improve spending efficiencies. Part of that change would include switching to a single preferred drug list for all plans to use, which could save the state $10.5 million annually.

Louisiana citizens overwhelmingly support Medicaid expansion

A recent survey out of the Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University found that 76% of the state’s residents support expanded Medicaid, according to an article from the Leesville Daily Leader.

In 2016, Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded Medicaid to people earning up to 38% above the poverty line, adding 500,000 new people to the membership. Bel Edwards has credited the expansion with reducing Louisiana’s uninsured rate to 8.4%, below the national average of 12.2%. Yet 55% of those surveyed did not know that the state had expanded Medicaid.

Republicans complain the program has not been managed well and that the state may not be able to afford future funding, especially if the federal government cuts back on their portion of support.

Arkansas delays open enrollment

Earlier this week, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced a six-month delay in the open enrollment period for a new Medicaid managed care program. The 45,000 people with developmental disabilities or serious behavioral health problem who wish to switch managed care companies must now wait until October to enroll, the Arkansas Times reported.

The DHS is giving Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entities more time to grow their network of providers and more time to educate families on which entities will best meet their needs.

The postponement is another setback for Arkansas, which has been trying to reform Medicaid spending. The idea was to create global payments for these high-cost beneficiaries, ultimately saving the state money.