Topeka — The cost of some emergency room services and health insurance for low-income families would increase under a proposal considered by state health officials on Tuesday.
The Kansas Health Policy Authority took no action on the budget draft but will probably vote on it next month.
KHPA Acting Executive Director Andrew Allison unveiled the options as a way to meet a 5 percent budget cut.
Gov. Mark Parkinson’s budget office has asked all state agencies to submit budget requests for the next fiscal year that include no increase, a 5 percent reduction and an enhanced revenue package. Parkinson will go over the budget requests and make a recommendation to the Legislature when the 2010 session starts in January.
“This is what we’ve done every year for the past several years,” Parkinson’s budget director, Duane Goossen, said in explaining the call for different level spending requests from state agencies.
The state’s budget is in bad shape. Parkinson and lawmakers have already gone through four rounds of cuts, and the House Appropriations Committee plans to meet next week to consider more ways to cut the budget.
Under the draft plan to cut the KHPA budget by 5 percent, a $25 payment would be assessed on individuals who receive treatment in emergency rooms for nonemergency conditions. Some people would be excluded from this charge, such as people earning low incomes, pregnant women, and terminally ill people receiving hospice care.
Another part of the proposal would increase monthly premiums for HealthWave families by either $10 or $20 per family. This would increase premiums to either $30 per month or $50 per month depending on the family size and income.
HealthWave is the program that provides coverage for children from families earning too much to receive Medicaid, but too little to purchase insurance on the private market.
Such an increase would cause anywhere from 1,000 to 3,200 children to lose coverage because families would either drop the plan or not renew it, according to KHPA officials.
Another proposal would reduce the amount the state reimburses for some services provided by health care professionals, and create a preferred drug list for mental health prescriptions dispensed under Medicaid.