Editorial: Too poor?

Kansas officials could use some help explaining their decision to reject expanded Medicaid and leave tens of thousands of state residents without any health insurance help.

August 9, 2013


Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says it will be hard to explain to thousands of Kansas residents why they are too poor to qualify for health insurance benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

Because Kansas has refused to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid benefits, a big gap in insurance coverage will open up in the state starting in January 2014. The federal ACA provides tax credits to help people pay for health insurance, but the act provides those credits only to people with incomes equal to 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s because the act assumes that people below that income level would be covered by expanded Medicaid benefits offered at the state level.

However, Kansas has refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion, even though the federal government would have paid 100 percent of the cost for that expansion for three years and 90 percent after that. Instead, Kansas is maintaining its existing Medicaid eligibility standards, which are some of the most restrictive in the country. Adults at any income level don’t qualify for the Kansas Medicaid program, known as KanCare, unless they are disabled. Families with children qualify for KanCare only if their incomes are below 35 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s $6,000 to $8,000 a year for a family of four.

That leaves tens of thousands of Kansans in a gap in which they are” too rich” to qualify for KanCare but too poor to qualify for tax credits to help them buy health insurance.

“The message that they’re too poor to qualify is not one they’re going to understand,” Praeger said in a recent radio interview. “They’re going to say, ‘What do you mean I’m too poor? You mean I make too much money?’ No, you’re too poor, because if you don’t make at least 100 percent of the federal poverty level, you’re not eligible because Kansas didn’t do the Medicaid expansion.”

An analysis released last month by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured says about 58,000 Kansans will fall into the coverage gap; a Kansas Health Institute brief released in January puts the estimate at about 88,000.

The Kaiser Commission estimates that expanded Medicaid in Kansas would provide insurance coverage to 144,000 additional Kansans and bring $5.3 billion in additional federal Medicaid funding to the state between 2013 and 2022.

It’s not a lot of comfort, but, according to the Kaiser Commission, Kansas is one of 21 states that aren’t currently moving forward with expanded Medicaid and will experience similar large gaps in medical coverage. Perhaps those other states have some advice for Kansas on how to explain to people that they are “too poor” to qualify for health insurance assistance.


whats_going_on 8 months, 1 week ago

So, these working poor who are "too rich" to qualify are now going to be forced to STOP WORKING in order to be eligible.

Nice work, dumb*ss, nice work.


jafs 8 months, 1 week ago

I said "similar" not "identical".

Not sure why it's a big issue for you - for me, once taxes are paid, that money is the government's money. Of course, we have elected officials who are supposed to represent our interests, like how much money the government should take in taxes and how it should spend it.

I also don't see it as "coercion" if federal money comes with federal guidelines. If states don't like the guidelines they don't have to take the money.

We disagree here, and I think our disagreement is clear by now.

Wisdom is sorely lacking in government these days - we can certainly agree on that part.


FastEddy 8 months, 1 week ago

Obamacare has been described as a train wreck even by Democrats (Max Baucus) who helped to get it passed. Many Democrats are backing away from their support of this disaster waiting to happen because the 2014 elections will come at a time when there may well be a universal outcry against Obamacare. The unions have now realized how much harm it will do to thier union members and now vehemently oppose Obamacare. Yet this President pushes forward with implementing a bad program. He claims that it's working exactly as intended. This begs the question: Has this President perpetrated something akin to the old bait and switch sales technique? Is his plan to get this nation sucked into a poorly conceived health care program doomed to fail for the purpose of switching to a single payer government insurance plan when the bait (Obamacare) fails to deliver? Does a bear defecate in the woods?


Armstrong 8 months, 1 week ago

In real numbers this issue applies to less than 2% of the states population.


Richard Heckler 8 months, 1 week ago

Neither women,republicans nor democrats can afford this ALEC Right Wing party that controls the Kansas State government.

Sam Brownback and his associates are dedicated to The ALEC Right Wing party not the republican party.


deskboy04 8 months, 1 week ago

The people in the "gap" should vote for someone else in the next election. They should vote for a candidate who will support their interests. But, many of them won't vote. That's sad.


grammaddy 8 months, 1 week ago

The more the GOP screw with Medicare/medicaid and the ACA, the closer we get to single payer.


markgreene69 8 months, 1 week ago

No wonder people are asking "where do I belong"? Imagine how one feels when they are told that they are too rich for regular Medicaid, BUT, not poor enough to qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act? I just hope that I can remain in good health so that I don't have to decide between my health and other things I need to live!


Paul R Getto 8 months, 1 week ago

The Muscular Jesus Sam and his cult follow does not like poor people, only "biddnessmen." Get over it, folks. This is the new reality.


kevingray 8 months, 1 week ago

In regards to Skinny's comment, here's what I've tried telling/akding Obamacare naysayers for year. If you have an health insurance policy do you know how much of your own policy goes to prop up the uninsured? Just read the following at USA Today or google for other locations. So many naysayers continue to turn away from this information.


mikekt 8 months, 1 week ago

What do you expect from a wolf in sheep's clothing ? The acting Mr Christian ? Please !!!

You can tell a tree........ by the fruit that it produces such as

A truly dysfunctional DMV, votes and voters that are suspended due to poorly considered, deliberately dysfunctional voting laws, arts funding that has been thrown away, state wide, ( unless you are in an out of this state arts places, like the Smithsonian or New York City based preforming arts place, thanks to the KOCHS, who spend your generous tax dodges elsewhere, on the arts, to rehab their names ) cuts to higher education, that Sam didn't stop with a veto, to fuel his tax giveaways ,Topeka's none funding of inspections of septic systems that are now unregulated to freely pollute Kansas ground water and what has happened to funding to preserve the older town centers of small Kansas towns ?

No need to send the poor of Kansas to Siberia, when you can open the gates of "Medical Hell" for them, by inserting yourself between them and available Federal Money !!!! Definitely the Christian thing to do !!!

He has created prayer rooms in Topeka, that are nothing but window dressing for his preying on the poor and the quality of life in general, of Kansan's .

This guy has done everything that he could.and can, to prove from day one that .......... GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM.............PARTICULARLY HIS !!!..........and for those of you with short attention spans please remember that he was a willing smiling member of congress when Bush was giving away the Federal Tax Farm, leaving us in the debt full mess that we are in today, with his tax cuts, get government out of your life management of financial institutions along with whoever else could be purchased and his popular but financially destructive war of adventure in Iraq that left that country in the clutches of Iranian sympathizers .

Our Turnpike ought to start to falling apart after his potential 2nd tern so that he can blame his replacement for your highway woes, as he needs their $ reserves to fund his madness .


Armstrong 8 months, 1 week ago

Speaking of numbers let's put this in prospective. Kansas population is roughly 3 million of that roughly 58000 are supposedly going to "fall through the cracks" That equates to .0193 of the state population. Really Sandy? Find something to occupy your time like serving the .9807 of the State.


George Lippencott 8 months, 1 week ago

There are many single individuals or married couples without children with low income who have no medical care and for whom the ACA is not the current answer.

Expanding Medicaid could address this group. The one challenge is that there is no money to pay for this initiative. The Federal Government is already running a half trillion to a trillion dollar deficit without this benefit.

Just exactly who will we tax to fund this initiative? We settled for a mere 4% from the really rich. We do not tax the lower income half of our country. We tax the middle at upwards of 33% direct and close to 15% indirect..

Is it not about time for a serious discussion of just how much we can take from the middle class to redistribute? Is it not about time that we prioritized all the "progressive" things we want to do? Do we really think it is appropriate and reasonable to take over half of the income of the middle class to redistribute to those with lower income.

We already provide about 20 to 30K for each "poor" person. If we add more we will soon be providing almost as much to the "poor" as we are leaving to the middle class.


kansas45 8 months, 1 week ago

If the income level is $6-8000 a year for family of four, how is it a family of that size can receive Medicaid assistance for disabled child and still be allowed to purchase new cars, go on cruises, pro football season tickets, weekend trips, etc.? Not joking on this one. Serious as a heart attack. Something is terribly wrong with the system!


Sparko 8 months, 1 week ago

Since they are simply Koch Brother front people, they don't have to explain. They'll just switch the conversation to fetal gun rights and parrot right wing talking points about socialism.
Many Kansans have never chosen theor "own" doctor because they can't afford to. Too many Kansans die of preventable diseases after voting for clowns like Brownback. This paper needs to do a better job of vetting lies. Too many astroturf organizations control the agenda, from fake tea partiers to "Freedom" works. Getting late in world history for the LJW to finally show a spine.


oldvet 8 months, 1 week ago

Oh the consequences of obummercare...

"We have to pass it to find out what's in it!"


Pheps 8 months, 1 week ago

There isn't anything that can be done for the discrepancies with allotting healthcare. That is why, in the guise of saving money, Obama, the congress and SCOTUS agreed to IPAB.

Just think. In the old days. Money was no object to save your mom or loved one. Not anymore.

Stay healthy.


Cait McKnelly 8 months, 1 week ago

It goes way beyond Brownback refusing to expand Medicaid (something for which no state funds would even be spent). Tim Huelskamp is stonewalling the ACA to the extent that he's refusing to even let his office answer any questions his own constituents may have about it.
How do these people even call themselves "Christians" and sleep with themselves at night?


Larry Moss 8 months, 1 week ago

Well, quite honestly the reason Kansas and many other States are not buying into the plan is that they feel that in the end, the federal government will not be able to subsidize the program at the level it says it will and the State will end up paying all of it. The 100% is the bait, the 90% is the hook and once the hook is set there is no going back.

With the federal government continuing to run large deficits and Obamacare set to balloon it even worse, there is no logical person who would think the ride can last forever.


Pheps 8 months, 1 week ago

The total collapse from the train wreck, is fast approaching. To avoid Obama's vigorish after the 3 year ploy expires, Kansas and other states, to stay solvent, need to avoid the Obamacare noose.

Since constitutionally independent state rights are fast disappearing, what's a Governor to do to keep his state solvent? Avoid the train wreck.


jimincountry 8 months, 1 week ago

The federal government seems bent upon making everyone contribute to expanding federal bureaucracy. Accepting federal dollars to install their programs. Then the feds withdraw leaving the state saddled with the cost. Federal bureaucrats are appointed/placed by the party in power to administer to the state bureaucrats that had to be hired for program upkeep but the feds make the rules. The more fed programs the more rules and regs............IRS comes to mind!


Joe Hyde 8 months, 1 week ago

Republican "conservatives" and Tea Partiers justify the cruelty of their position on Medicaid expansion by claiming they're only trying to motivate lower income people to "pick themselves up by their bootstraps and become success stories"...while simultaneously they keep cutting education funding and passing tax laws that benefit the wealthy. The cumulative impact (and intent) is to cripple for eternity whatever chance lower income citizens and families have to better themselves.

What our current legislature and governor have been doing isn't politics. It's an organized anti-social pathology masquerading as politics.


jafs 8 months, 1 week ago

This points to a fundamental problem with Medicaid. Even though lots of federal money goes to states, the states are allowed to set up their Medicaid programs with virtually no federal involvement or oversight.

Seems to me that a federally funded program should come with guidelines that states must follow.

What exactly are those folks not covered by Medicaid in KS supposed to do for health care?


JohnBrown 8 months, 1 week ago

The answer is simple and straight forward: the so-called 'Republican' Party's strategy is to deny O'Bama ANYTHING he seeks.

If it was a Republican goal or idea yesterday, and O'Bama asks for it today, the so-called republicans will oppose it today. This is their one strategy; it explains everything the Tea Party has done since O'Bama was first elected.



skinny 8 months, 1 week ago

Health care is not free! Who do you think is going to pay for it?? If it is an emergency they can go to the ER!


rbwaa 8 months, 1 week ago

another reason to be embarrassed about living in Kansas


Michael LoBurgio 8 months, 1 week ago

Insurance gaps Analysis of uninsured in Kansas shows need for Medicaid expansion, mandate

Gov. Sam Brownback are balking at raising Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – about $30,000 a year for a family of four – a move that would expand coverage to 315,000 low-income Kansans, according to the KHI report. The federal government would pay for most of the cost of the expansion, but the governor and legislators are considering denying the federal money for this, primarily out of political spite for “Obamacare.”

That would be a huge disservice to low-income Kansans. Moreover, the KHI data paints a picture of a health insurance coverage problem that needs to be fixed. Insuring more low-income people is one fix. The other is the mandate that all Americans have health insurance,


scott3460 8 months, 1 week ago

58,000 people have family and friends who will see what is happening.

The cruelness of brownback's decision will not go without notice.


IreneAdler84 8 months, 1 week ago

I hope that those 58,000 Kansans will remember who they have to thank for their predicament when it comes time to vote in 2014.


overthemoon 8 months, 1 week ago

Perhaps Brownback can explain yet another decision that was not thoroughly thought out before he decided to do what he thought was good for his party and his donors instead of what is good for Kansans.


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