Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback's administration on Friday announced that its recent privatization of Medicaid is saving more than expected, and it wants to use those savings to provide services to people with disabilities and help pay for a new education building at the Kansas University Medical Center.
"We want to work with the Legislature on how to proceed with that," Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said.
Legislators return May 8 for the wrap-up session to work on the state budget and tax issues.
On Friday, budget experts met to determine how much revenue would be available for legislators to spend. There was little change in revenue estimates, but a big change in "caseload estimates," which projects how much is needed to cover various social service expenditures.
The combined decrease for all human services caseloads totals $68 million in state tax dollars over three years, according to state officials.
Colyer attributed much of the decrease to savings from the state changing the Medicaid system into a managed care program called KanCare, which is administered by three private insurance companies.
The savings, however, also come from expected reductions in welfare spending because of the prediction that the Kansas economy will improve, according to a memo from the Kansas Budget Division and Kansas Legislative Research Department.
Colyer said the administration wants to use the "KanCare dividend" to reduce the number of Kansans with physical and developmental disabilities who are on waiting lists for services provided in their homes and communities. Currently, approximately 6,000 people are on various waiting lists, and sometimes the wait can take years.
And, Colyer said the administration wants to use $10 million of the savings to jumpstart construction of a new medical education building at the KU Medical Center to train more doctors and nurses.
Brownback had proposed $10 million for the building in his budget, but Republicans in the House and Senate had proposed putting those funds into other budget areas.
When the administration started KanCare this year, it estimated savings of $1 billion over 5 years. But the new announcement consists of savings on top of that amount, Colyer said.