Topeka By year’s end, 50,000 Kansans who need health care coverage will have their applications delayed in the process because of budget cuts made in the last legislative session, a leading state health official said Friday.
The backlog will affect health care for children from low-income families, nursing homes and home-based care for the elderly, said Andrew Allison, Kansas Health Policy Authority interim executive director.
“We expect a statewide impact in these areas,” Allison told the House-Senate Committee on Health Policy Oversight.
Amid dropping tax revenues, the Legislature cut KHPA’s operational budget by 15.5 percent in the session that ended last month. KHPA will receive approximately $450 million over the next three years in federal stimulus funds, but those funds go toward Medicaid caseloads, not operating expenses related to adminstering health programs.
The reduction in KHPA’s operational budget will result in cuts to the clearinghouse that processes Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program applications, which will lead to a backlog, ranging from 30,000 to 50,000, Allison said.
“The lack of additional funding for the clearinghouse means that we will have a large and growing backlog,” he said.
Allison said he fears that will result in delayed medical care and negative health outcomes.
In addition, the agency has reduced its staff size by 15 percent, he said.
State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, and vice-chair of the oversight panel, said lawmakers knew this would happen, but because of the budget crunch they were forced to cut most areas of government.
“The state is making the same decisions that many families are making,” Landwehr said.
Ironically, Allison said, the budget cuts have prevented KHPA from purchasing the computer upgrades that could lead to significant savings and efficiencies in the health care system.