Topeka State officials said Monday that the recent promise of legislators to expand health care coverage to thousands of children from working families could be broken under proposed budget cuts.
In addition, the proposed cuts may delay processing applications for medical assistance to such an extent that the state could run afoul of federal regulations.
“This is a little like funding the purchase of light bulbs for your house, but not the electricity to turn them on,” said Andy Allison, who is deputy director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority.
Allison was describing a situation where lawmakers have cut administrative expenses at KHPA by 10.6 percent and are proposing further cuts of administrative expenses of 2.5 percent under a Senate budget plan, and 5 percent under a House plan.
Under those committee proposals, “caseloads,” meaning those eligible for Medicaid, would be exempt from the cuts. Medicaid is a federal-state funded program that provides health coverage to low-income Kansans.
But the administrative cuts would hamper KHPA’s ability to provide those services, KHPA says.
In response, KHPA plans to propose a 1 percent cut in the reimbursement rates paid to Medicaid services providers, such as doctors and other health care professionals.
The cuts could also fall on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which unlike Medicaid is not an entitlement. SCHIP is the program that provides low-cost coverage for children in families that earn too much for Medicaid but have trouble affording private insurance.
The House-proposed cut would probably cancel out an expansion of SCHIP that was approved only weeks ago, and was to provide health care coverage to some 8,000 children in working families, according to KHPA.
The proposed cuts come in response to a newly estimated $328 million revenue shortfall in the just-approved state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Lawmakers return Wednesday for the wrap-up session to balance the 2010 budget.