Medicaid expansion panel at Jewell discusses the problems and benefits of expansion

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The American Public Square at Jewell hosted a panel on Medicaid expansion on Nov 4. 

The panel featured Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, Kansas Secretary of Health and the Environment Dr. Lee Norman, researcher and professor at the University of Kansas Dr. David Slusky, and president of the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute Dr. John Bluford. The discussion was moderated by William Jewell College’s Dr. Gary Armstrong.

American Public Square provided a program and a basic facts sheet to inform the audience. The panelists often referred to information provided on the fact sheet during the discussion. 

Among the points discussed were the differences between Medicaid and expanded Medicaid, the Kansas bill for Medicaid expansion and how it would be funded, and how those on Medicaid would be affected by the expansion.

Denning explained that in Kansas, funding for traditional Medicaid comes in a constantly changing ratio of federal and state contributions. At the time of the panel, 60 percent of Medicaid was funded by the federal government and 40 percent was funded by the state. This is revised periodically. 

Funding for Medicaid expansion is different. Ninety percent of funding for the expanded program would come from the federal government, with only 10 percent coming from the state.

Denning also explained the sources of funding for Medicaid within the state. Traditional Medicaid is funded mostly out of the state checking account. About 13 percent comes from a tax on HMO insurance. The Kansas Legislature, specifically Denning, is attempting to find sources of funding for the expansion that would require no further draw upon state checking account funds. This would include a tax or surcharge on hospitals and a greater HMO tax. 

Panelists mentioned that states have already lost millions of dollars that could have been put toward Medicaid and healthcare programs by not expanding. 

Bluford argued that the human element of Medicaid and expansion is often overlooked. Most of the people who are on Medicaid would rather not have to be, and it provides care for those who otherwise could not afford it. However, it can be difficult to find doctors who take Medicaid because the payout is below cost for the treatment and can often come in payments months after treatment happens. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. Medicaid expansion would help narrow the gap and address this. 

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