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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Bipartisan group seeks incremental health care changes

March 22, 2007

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— A bipartisan group Wednesday outlined health care proposals that supporters said would set the stage for broader reforms in 2008.

"This is a sign of good things to come," said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.

But it is a far cry from when the session started in January and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius called on lawmakers to develop a plan for universal health care coverage.

Still, health officials said the incremental changes were needed to build up to larger reforms.

The major initiatives of the bipartisan proposal would:

¢ Expand newborn screening tests from the current four tests to 29 tests, which officials said would help in early diagnosis and early intervention on health problems.

¢ Phase in assistance over five years to low-income families to purchase health insurance. This would cost $77 million once fully implemented, according to preliminary estimates.

¢ Increase marketing and outreach to enroll children who are eligible for Medicaid but currently uninsured. The Kansas Health Policy Authority is seeking $822,122 for this effort.

The proposal was brought to the Senate Ways and Means Committee by Sens. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, and Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, and Reps. Jeff Colyer, R-Overland Park, and Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City.

The House already has approved $1.2 million in funding for the increase in newborn testing.

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