Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Lawmakers struggle with social services costs

April 17, 2012


— Kansas legislators struggled Tuesday to get a handle on rising costs for Medicaid and other social services as a state Senate committee resumed work on the next state budget.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee reviewed projections that existing services will cost the state an additional $44 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1. Most of the new dollars would be needed for Medicaid, which covers health care for the poor, needy and disabled.

The projections also assume that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's efforts to overhaul the $2.9 billion-a-year Medicaid program will result in some savings. The state officials and legislative researchers who prepared the new numbers said the administration believes costs would rise by an additional $13 million without the overhaul.

The overhaul will turn management of the entire program over to three private companies, starting in January. But Senate committee members from both parties were skeptical that the change will create savings, because Brownback has promised that the state won't sacrifice coverage for Medicaid participants or cut payments to health care providers.

"Common sense and logic tells me that it's unlikely," said Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican. "I don't know how those numbers compute."

The committee's proposed budget is likely to be about $14.1 billion for the next fiscal year. Legislators were close to taking final action last month on a compromise plan that covered most of the spending, but the agreement between House and Senate negotiators unraveled just before lawmakers adjourned for their annual spring break. The full Legislature reconvenes April 25.

New revenue projections released last week, reflecting a growing economy, gave lawmakers an additional $252 million cushion. But Brownback is pushing for income tax cuts to stimulate economic growth, and some lawmakers want some additional funds to go to public schools.

The new cost figures for social services replace projections made in November and reflect a growing number of people participating in Medicaid and other services. As of last month, the state was providing medical coverage for almost 387,000 people, up nearly 6 percent from March 2011.

Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said those numbers demonstrate the need to overhaul Medicaid. Renamed KanCare, it would be a managed-care program, with each contractor operating statewide to give participants a choice of coverage. Most Medicaid participants already have managed-care coverage, but the overhaul is the first time Kansas has tried that approach with disabled and elderly residents needing expensive, long-term services.

Brownback contends the state will save money by better coordinating services and improving participants' overall health. The administration projects the state's savings at $368 million over the next five years.

"Without reforms in Medicaid so that we can find these savings, it will start impacting other parts of the budget," Jones-Sontag said.

But Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, said she doesn't expect savings immediately.

"We're not yet there," she said. "We have yet to be able to make the math work."


mikekt 2 years ago

Well, let's see. The Republicans got us in & kept us in to how many costly "endless wars"? And what about that open ended Medicare Part D Drug bill that Bush Jr. could have vetoed? And how many chances did Congress pass up, including the recent Buffet Bill tax increase on the "slacker" super rich, to balance the budget deficit? Not even a tax increase for them? Really? Then a tax increase for Whom? Ronald Wilson Reagan raised taxes with the Congress Eleven times to keep the budget in check while rebuilding our military? Bush Sr. who was an honorable man & raised taxes with the Congress & took the heat in the next election from the RINOS, unlike his despicable son, who with his Congress, ran this country into the financial ditch that we have. Obama can't raise taxes on his own! He's not GOD ...or dictator.....yet (don't trust any of them). In the end, raising taxes and paying our countries bills belongs to the Congress, most of whom blame Obama because they choose to do nothing (on purpose) about this countries situation, while giving hand outs to the failing banks that they fail to regulate (regulating banks requires doing something & they are professional do nothings!) while keeping their wealthy contributors in a state of suspended taxation (that they can manage to do most of the time...amazing!!!!). When did the President (executive branch) become responsible for the work of the legislative branch (That's the Congress) such as taxation or being the speaker of either chamber? I think that this happened when people who don't understand (or who don't want to understand) our constitution, started writing in to news papers that are often too lazy, to point out the obvious to them, about how our government actually works.


Jayhawk1958 2 years ago

A debt because of Republican policies, like GE not paying any income tax.


Flap Doodle 2 years ago

Speaking of the national debt: "...Although he has served less than a term, Obama is now the first American president to see the federal government's debt increase by more than $5 trillion during his time in office..."


Carol Bowen 2 years ago

Someone should start tallying the cost of fewer social services - emergency room visits, crime, disaster.


Gotland 2 years ago

Obamacare has a solution for these people.


mikekt 2 years ago

Oh, this is just the rich trying to destroy the poor, the middle class, the ill and anyone else that they can get their hooks into for a free lunch! The Prayerful Sam Brownback & the Re-Publican partiers, are just "PREYING AS USUAL", on anyone that they can, on behalf of their wealthy masters. They should call their new magical health care cost saving program, as it really is;...... "WeKanCareLessAboutAnyoneButOurselvesAndOurOwn(HealthCarePlan)ToBenefitOurBig InsuranceCompanyFriends&Contributors!" Preyerfully, Whatever!!!!!


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Deregulation brings on out of control medical insurance costs and ELITE ENTITLEMENTS:

  1. ENTITLEMENT - TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist and Koch Bros sells out state governments, public schools,SRS services etc etc to private industry = Grab Your Wallets!

  2. ENTITLEMENT - Bailing out The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist aka home loan scandal sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many $$ trillions (Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion), Plus millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance.

  3. ENTITLEMENT - Bailing out the Bush/Cheney Home Loan Wall Street Bank Fraud cost consumers $ trillions, millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. Exactly like the Reagan/Bush home loan scam. Déjà vu can we say. Yep seems to be a pattern.

4.ENTITLEMENT - Bush/Cheney implied many financial institutions were at risk instead of only 3? One of the biggest lies perpetrated to American citizens. Where did this money go? Why were some banks forced to take bail out money?

  1. Tax cuts = the ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy which do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs. Tax cuts are a tax increase to others in order to make up the loss in revenue = duped again.

Still A Bad ENTITLEMENT Idea – Bush Tax Cuts aka The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class = duped one more time.

  1. In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • ENTITLEMENT - Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • ENTITLEMENT - Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• ENTITLEMENT - Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents.


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Millions of out work Americans = higher taxes because of less money being spent. 20 million out of work can increase taxes a lot.

Reducing spending at the state level increases spending at the local level....

How has Gov Sam Brownback reduced spending? Generally speaking. I am looking for hard evidence.

Reducing the number of state employees does not necessarily reduce government spending because the spending might have been expanded on corporate welfare. Brownback claims he is stashing our tax dollars...... for what exactly has yet to be determined.

RINO's like Sam Brownback neither cut spending nor reduce the size of big brother they simply spend elsewhere which might somehow enlarge big brother.


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Massive spending problems? Specifically.....


Random56 2 years ago

Higher taxes, more regulations and handouts can fix anything (jk). Maybe we shouldn't have bought those nice electric busses, or that nice new library if we have no money for our elderly. Our city/state/fed has massive excess spending problems until we fix it we will have these problems.


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Not only that how does laying off city/county workers and state workers not add to the cost of social services?

I say spend my tax dollars keeping workers on the job. As a matter of fact I'm speculating that if the state taxpayers fired Gov Sam Brownback and his motley crew,then hired back all the laid off workers the Kansas economy would be healthier.

That's right. As I look at it those hired back people would be spending more money thus increasing new employment in the private sector. Can we say teamwork?


Paul R Getto 2 years ago

"Brownback contends the state will save money..." Argument by assertion with little evidence to back it up. Not a bad tactic if it works, and it is familiar to many bloggers. The Gov isn't a blogger and he should try and find evidence his programs will save money. This hasn't been the case in other states. "Throw Momma from the train?" Just do it after it crosses the state line.


Michael LoBurgio 2 years ago

GOP budget plan would cost states $2.7 trillion in health care funding

Here’s a look at how much federal funding Kansas would lose during the next 10 years under the GOP budget plan:

• $5.3 billion — for Medicaid program that serves about 340,000 low-income elderly, children and disabled residents.

• $4.6 billion — for expansion of Medicaid program. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid eligibility would be expanded to include anyone who earned 133 percent of the federal poverty level or less. The GOP budget plan eliminates the expansion.

• $6.9 billion — in tax credit dollars. The Affordable Care Act provides significant tax credit subsidies for middle-class families so that they can better afford health care coverage. The budget plan eliminates those subsidies.

• $1.9 billion — for Medicare program. Among the Medicare cuts would be eliminating help for seniors who fall into the coverage gap for prescription drugs, commonly called the doughnut hole. Currently under the Affordable Care Act, seniors who fall into the gap receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs. In 2011, 40,900 Kansans fell into the coverage gap but received an average $610 through the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. The gap would ultimately be eliminated under ACA, but the GOP budget plan would completely reopen it.


Michael LoBurgio 2 years ago

Study says lower state income taxes will lead to higher property, sales taxes

As Gov. Sam Brownback prods fellow Republicans to cut the state income tax, a study released Thursday says reducing that levy will probably lead to higher property and sales taxes and undermine funding for schools, roads and public safety.

“If Kansas gets rid of the income tax, the state will likely find itself both raising other taxes on middle- and low-income families and making massive cuts to vital services that will badly damage the state’s economy,” said Erica Williams, policy analyst and co-author of the report done by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


Michael LoBurgio 2 years ago

Government cuts fuel Kansas job loss State count drops 5,700 in a month, among the worst in the country Heavy cuts in state government jobs factored into the loss of 5,700 jobs in Kansas from January to February.


deec 2 years ago

They will save money by kicking 97 year old dementia patients with no living family out of nursing homes. Read the article in today's paper about how Sammy's crew wants to con 800 disabled people and senior citizens out of nursing homes The local admins get two grand per head to get them to agree to live elsewhere. But they can get assistance to remain at home, except the assistance programs have long waiting lists. There's your death panels right there, and it ain't Obama pushing them.


Flap Doodle 2 years ago

HR 676, dead like fried chicken except in the dreams of one poster on this award-winning website. (from a source)


Alceste 2 years ago

awww...heck....let's examine what these hillbilly hick "legislators" (and that DOES include the "leaders" from right here in Lawrence and Douglas county) have done for themselves....Medicaid be damned:

Even though they only really "earn" for a couple of months of the year, they get credit for earning it all year long.

For the legislator listing all income - the daily rate, subsistence and allowance - this is how annualization is calculated:

•$88.66 (daily rate) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $32,981.52

•$123 (subsistence) x 31 (days) x 12 (months) = $45,756

•$7,083 non-session allowance.

Altogether, that equals $85,820.52, and that's the pay figure that would be used for that legislator retiring now.

Now then, that political hack who is president of the Kansas hillbilly senate or whatever the operation is has defended this obscene payout because legilsators work for " little money....". Ok....if that is the case, why aren't all civil servants for the state of Kansas allowed to have their KPERS benefit calculated on a 372 day work year?

In calendar year 2010, employer contributions for legislators in KPERS slightly topped $900,000.

A legislator retiring with an annualized pay of $85,820.52, and with 10 years' service, would have an annual KPERS benefit of $15,018.60, for a monthly benefit of $1,251.55, according to KPERS. If the retiring legislator had 20 years' service, the annual benefit would be $30,037.20, and monthly, $2,503.10.

A state social services worker in a supervisory role retired in 1995 after 15 years and draws a monthly KPERS benefit of $524. That is equal to the monthly benefit for a county-level commercial appraiser who retired at 65, vested at nine years with KPERS.

It's for the children, you know. shrug


pace 2 years ago

but but Romney said the safety net was catching all those people, what me worry?


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Healthcare Reform Report Card

Let's Compare: Single-Payer (HR 676 and S 703) Expanded Medicare for All Vs. Proposed Healthcare “Private insurance with Public Option” Physicians for a National Health Program

Repubs have nothing better to offer as always.


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Hey republicans where are all of those new jobs? With benefits?

Why did Sam Brownback put so many people out of work?

Sam Brownback represents wreckanomics!


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Turning over any aspect of Medicaid or Medicare to the medical insurance industry will only increase the cost. There is at least 70-80 years of history to substantiate how the industry operates.

Sam Brownback loves blowing our tax dollars. He's keeping in mind a kickback by way of campaign contributions. He is a crook.


handley 2 years ago

Quit cutting taxes. when budget items are going up cutting taxes does not compute.


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