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Archive for Friday, June 12, 2009

State budget cuts could result in health coverage backlog for 50,000 Kansans

June 12, 2009, 12:21 p.m. Updated June 12, 2009, 2:25 p.m.

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— 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.

Comments

handley 5 years, 6 months ago

Why don't we cut state paid health coverage to the people that can afford to buy their own coverage. Also state car usage and millage payments. I never got millage to drive my car to work.

skinny 5 years, 6 months ago

handley,

How about getting a job with benefits instead of wanting everyone else to pay for your health insurance. Always wanting something for nothing! Get real,

timetospeakup 5 years, 6 months ago

skinny - even if people get a job that offers benefits, a lot of people reject them. No joke, a customer of mine offers reasonably generous health insurance to their employees. A lot of the retail staff just rejects it, because paying a percentage of insurance costs them a lot more than paying nothing for medicaid. It's disgusting.

skinny 5 years, 6 months ago

timetospeakup, If a doctor wants to reject an insurance company because he is not making any money off the patents with that insurance company then that is the doctors prerogative. After all, the doctor didn’t go to school for 10 to 12 years spending tens of thousands of dollars on his education to give his services away for free. You can’t blame them, can you?

You know, health insurance is like anything else in this world, if you want it you have to pay for it. Nothing is free.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Nothing is free that is so true. Which makes National Health Insurance the perfect plan. It is not free not by a long shot but it would be far more practical, affordable and comprehensive than anything that's ever been offered in this nations history.

Somehow the notion is out there that something paid with OUR tax dollars is free. No way jose'!

USE our existing pie of tax dollars to insure all in the USA for 24/7 health care! Don't force employers to pay one thin dime! There are plenty of tax dollars in DC to cover all of us.

It would be better use of our existing tax dollars for several reasons:

  • the tax dollars belong to YOU and ME! It is our money which eliminates free in a big way!
  • it opens doors for new small business
  • no one would ever be forced into bankruptcy over health problems which now an estimated 50% of bankruptcies are a result of no insurance or under insured
  • this would eliminate one huge special interest campaign problem
  • veterans would have access to care right away no matter what
  • it would substantially reduce the cost of federal,state and city governments
  • it would substantially reduce the cost of school district budgets
  • it would make america attractive for new industry thus new wealth for america
  • it would restore patients choice across the board = removing the insurance companies from healthcare decisions = improved healthcare across the board
  • a healthy population is productive population

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

According to the news the US Chamber of Commerce is preparing a $100,000,000(million) campaign to tell US that universal health care/single payer/National Health Insurance is no good for US... you and me. What a waste of health insurance dollars!

If an industry can afford that type of campaign that is one huge waste of your heath insurance dollars and indicates huge profits. It is also a reckless and irresponsible use of health insurance dollars. The money must be coming from all of those who have paid out hard earned dollars for health insurance.

You can bet our elected officials are going to see a ton of this corrupt special interest money and reckless use of these health insurance dollars.

skinny 5 years, 6 months ago

Merrill, I don't know about you but I want choices in health care. If I want or need a test done to save my life I don't want to wait 9 month to a year to get that test done.

No thanks, I'll manage my own health care and my own life. I don't need the government telling when and where I must go to get heath care.

Remember, you get what you pay for!!

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years, 6 months ago

skinny, the article specifically points out that the individuals whose apps will be backlogged are the elderly and children--people who generally CAN'T get jobs with HI bennies.

I suggest that an elderly person who has worked his/her entire life, paying taxes and contributing to their community, is not really looking for "something for nothing." Nor are children who do not yet have the capacity to work full-time.

At least Rep. Landwehr has had the intellectual integrity and moral decency to say "Yup, we knew this was gonna happen but we didn't care and did it anyway." Although I'm wondering if she is cutting the health insurance to the minors and elderly in her family...since she say's that's what families do.

Ryan Neuhofel 5 years, 6 months ago

Here's a crazy idea.

Instead of our state government becoming "managers" of health care for the poor - and siphoning nearly half of taxpayers funds before reaching the actual providers of health care (doctors, hospitals, etc.) - give the recipeints of assistance the option to take "health care subsidy/voucher" in leu of government managed care. They could use the money to purchase health care directly from doctors (preferably) and purchase catostrophic insurance plan (or continue with catostrophic insurance coverage with governmnent).

This would effectively end the two-tier health care system that has been created by Medicaid.

appleaday 5 years, 6 months ago

Do you have any idea how much insurance companies rake in? Check out their CEO salaries (google it) for one thing. And most health insurance plans dictate, in one way or another, what services you can have and which doctors you can see.

Ryan Neuhofel 5 years, 6 months ago

appleaday,

thanks for the tip. holy smokes you're were right, CEOs of health plans make millions per year! I guess that's how all corporate executives and business owners get rich . . . by setting really high prices for their goods and services. Henry Ford, Sam Walton and Bill Gates all made billions by exploiting the helpless masses by charging exorbitant amounts for their products.

pace 5 years, 6 months ago

We could just let poor or unlucky people, the unemployed just suffer, sicken, and die instead of utilizing preventative health care that Would keep or put many in the shape to work and live well. That is just the breaks, pay taxes all your life, lose your job, lose your coverage and it is just too bad. Bet the legislatures have insurance covered by the taxes paid by people who have lost their health care. I wonder if they watch the death toll mount and think it is some sort of cost savings barometer. Your image of medicare as something that just pops up when you need it proves you didn't read the article. The line for disability is curving behind the line of people dieing while their case is reviewed. If you can't spell it, don't make it up.

Ryan Neuhofel 5 years, 6 months ago

pace says, "die instead of utilizing preventative health care"

As a physician-in-training and someone who has heavily studied preventive medicine during my Masters, I fully appreciate the importance and impact of "preventive health care". But the notion that "insurance coverage", especially given passively through the government, guarantees basic disease screening (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) and maintenance of chronic disease is not true in real life. Most of my current patients are Medicaid, which pay nothing to very little for visits or medicines. They rarely follow recommendations for preventive care and many are non-adherent to treatments . . . COPD patients continue to willingly spend $100+ dollars/month on cigarettes and tell me they can't afford to get to their appointments or their medication (which is a voluntary $1 co-pay). Why? And can we force someone to follow preventive care guidelines? Maybe we could actually pay them in money or cigarettes to follow the doctors recommendations?

I think the unintended negative consequences of having third-parties (Medicaid) manage all health care are enourmous and largely go undiscussed. This is especially evident in Medicaid patients. This system discourages self-directive and investment. Why take an active role when somebody else makes all of the real decisions? It also needlessly creates a very distinct two-teir system - with 50%+ (and growing) providers not accepting Medicaid patients. Also, health care workers (sometimes me!) automatically stereotype Medicaid patients as irresponsible and ungrateful - which is a disservice to patients and providers.

There are alternatives to 'managed care' while providing assistance to those “in need” - poor, sick, etc. Giving “health care account/credit” controlled by the patient (debit card) in leu of a government-payer should be an option. Hopefully, the “health accounts” would be used to purchase routine, primary care directly from doctors and be backed with a catostrophic insurance plan (government or private). This system would certainly encourage people to take a more active role in health care - serving as a source of empowerment. Many will attack this plan as “privatization”, but I ask those people - Do you oppose “food stamps” program in favor of “government-cheese”? or “rent subsidies” in favor of “the projects”?

ASBESTOS 5 years, 6 months ago

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/06/14/george-will-tells-dirty-little-secrets-universal-healthcare

Great arguments to the meme talking points for those that want the Socilaized SIngle payer system:

"GEORGE WILL, ABC NEWS ANALYST: [T] this is now a single issue argument about whether or not we’re on a slippery slope to a single-payer system. That is, it’s about the so-called public option. And the president has said, “If you are starting from scratch” -- he said this very recently -- he would go to a single payer. That is, government as the single provider of health care.

Bullseye, for all one need do is look at the totally absurd economic assumptions in Obama's 2010 budget, and one would have to agree with Will. But I digress:

WILL: Second, he says, it will play by the same rules as the private insurers, and therefore, won’t drive them out of business. If you play by the same rules, as you said to the secretary, what’s the point?

Exactly. If the rules of the private insurers are sound enough to be adopted by government, why change things?

WILL: Third, it’s necessary to give what Secretary Sebelius said a choice to the consumers. There are 1,300 entities offering healthcare plans in this country. Another one isn’t going to change that.

Precisely. Taking this a step further, many of these 1,300 entities will likely cease to exist if government gets involved. As such, Americans will have far fewer options.

WILL: Finally, there’s the argument that the American people are not smart enough to handle something as complicated as healthcare and have a competitive market. They’ve done rather well in computers.

Yes, but a common liberal meme is that people aren't smart enough to figure things out, and that's why government needs do it for them.

Fortunately, Will wasn't done, for he later dispelled another media myth about this issue:

WILL: Donna [Brazile], you talk about the 46, 47 million uninsured. Fourteen million of them are already eligible for other government programs and haven’t signed up. Ten million are in households with household incomes of $75,000 a year and could afford it if they wanted to.

Furthermore, an enormous number in that 47 million are not American citizens. Sixty percent of the uninsured in San Francisco are not citizens.

Bingo. So, this 47 million uninsured number the media always throw around is totally disingenuous and largely irrelevant."

This has been and will always be about "buying votes" of illegal aliens that aren't supposed to be here and voting anyway. (Before anyone flames me legal immigrants. legal non-citizen residents, and American citizens of all races are not being outed here, it is the illegal ones and that is not racist.)

ASBESTOS 5 years, 6 months ago

The salient point about the "Health Care" issue:

"you talk about the 46, 47 million uninsured. Fourteen million of them are already eligible for other government programs and haven’t signed up. Ten million are in households with household incomes of $75,000 a year and could afford it if they wanted to.

Furthermore, an enormous number in that 47 million are not American citizens. Sixty percent of the uninsured in San Francisco are not citizens."

That is the reality. Why flush the whole thing down the drain for about 20,000,000 and screw the remaining 280,000,000.

It is a numbers game.

pace 5 years, 6 months ago

We use the death of the uninsured as a barometer of cost savings. Deny care to children because somewhere the uninsured are mostly aliens. We must stand to reshape health care in this country. The flush happened, we have an expensive, unresponsive system that isn't serving many except the insurance and pharmacy companies.

notajayhawk 5 years, 6 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

"Which makes National Health Insurance the perfect plan."

If you were capable of intelligent thought instead of being a cut-and-paste drone, merrill, you might have realized this story points to just one of the many reasons why taxpayer-funded health plans are as far from "perfect" as could be.

Since you (as usual) didn't read the story and just pasted your usual worthless BS, the story reports on a situation in which many people are not going to get coverage because there's no money in the state budget to administer the program. This situation, incidentally, would occur not only during times of fiscal crisis. The problem is that, unlike private insurers, there is a total disconnect between revenues and expenditures in government-funded programs. With a private company, if you enroll more people, you take in more revenue, and you can pay your staff to process the new claims. In the public sector, it doesn't matter how many people you enroll, or how many new enrollments (or claims) you have to process, you only have the budgeted amount set by the legislature (up to a year ago) to work with.

Even before this happened, KHPA was already terrible. An acquaintance of mine recently had claims denied for a doctor's visit and medications for one of his children because it took KHPA seven weeks just to process their renewal. But with the current fiscal circumstances, it will only get worse. Just who pays the claims in a nationalized system, merrill, in times like these, when the tax revenues just aren't coming in?

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