Topeka Some Kansas children from low-income families will have to wait longer for medical care because of budget cuts, according to state health officials.
Last week, lawmakers completed work on the $13 billion budget by slicing nearly all areas of state spending to make up for a $328 million deficit.
For the Kansas Health Policy Authority, which oversees the state’s Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program, lawmakers sought to protect “caseloads” from budget cuts, but whacked administrative expenses by more than 15 percent.
Problem is, those administrative expenses pay the salaries of the people who are responsible for processing applicants for Medicaid, which covers nearly 290,000 children in Kansas, according to KHPA.
That means layoffs and reductions in contracts for technical and administrative support. And that means that time needed to process Medicaid applications is going to increase and backlogs for services will grow.
“Most of those people whose applications are pending are seeking medical care,” Andy Allison, deputy director of KHPA, said in a letter to lawmakers. “When we’re not able to process those applications in a timely manner, it means these people will have to wait longer to get the health care they need.”
The situation also could push Kansas out of compliance with federal rules for Medicaid and jeopardize future funding, he said.
So far, that message hasn’t sunk in with elected leaders.
“That particular concern hasn’t been made directly to me,” Gov. Mark Parkinson said earlier this week when asked about dire warnings from KHPA.
“I know that every agency is going to incur some cuts,” Parkinson said. “The cuts that we talked about were cuts that would be painful but not crippling, and to the extent that any of the cuts prove to be crippling, I’ll work with any agency out there to try to assist it in working through the sacrifices that we’ve asked them to make.”
When asked about the issue at another news conference earlier this week, state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said he understood the concerns but added, “I suspect a lot of other state agencies have similar concerns.”