Archive for Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kansas Democrats to fight back on Obamacare

August 24, 2014

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— After getting beaten up over the last several election cycles over the federal health reform law commonly known as Obamacare, Kansas Democrats adopted a platform that defends the law and calls for full implementation in the state, including expansion of Medicaid.

And some Democrats think they've found a weapon to use to fight back with in the health reform debate, Gov. Sam Brownback's own health care policies — such as privatizing Medicaid and authorizing a health care compact to take over administration of federal health care programs — which they now refer to collectively as "BrownbackCare."

"BrownbackCare is built on denying people affordable medical care, and takes the well being of millions of Kansans and our senior citizens, and makes it a blank check made out to our governor," said Dennis Anderson, the Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner.

Dennis Anderson, Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner, talks with supporters during the state party's DemoFest convention in Wichita. Anderson said he supports the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, and believes Kansas should take advantage of the law to expand Medicaid.

Dennis Anderson, Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner, talks with supporters during the state party's DemoFest convention in Wichita. Anderson said he supports the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, and believes Kansas should take advantage of the law to expand Medicaid.

Polls still show that the new law — or at least the word "Obamacare," a Republican-generated nickname for the Patient Protection and Affordabe Care Act — remains unpopular in Kansas.

But state party chairwoman Joan Wagnon said the party believes those numbers can be turned around when people learn about the benefits of the law.

"I don't know how you start doing that if you don't start talking about its benefits," Wagnon said.

The party platform, adopted Friday at the state party's annual DemoFest convention in Wichita, includes a list of benefits the law has provided, such as allowing parents to carry their children on family policies up to age 26 and requiring insurance companies to provide coverage despite a person's pre-existing conditions.

"However, certain provisions that make the ACA workable have not been enacted in Kansas — notably the expansion of Medicaid coverage to thousands of eligible persons. Kansas Democrats will work to expand Medicaid coverage in Kansas," the platform states.

"One of the comments when we were putting our platform together was, we've got to stop running away from the Affordable Care Act," Wagnon said.

"When they understand the number of uninsured in Kansas is going up instead of down, and when they understand how many millions (of dollars) were given back because premiums were lowered because of the Affordable Care Act, they're going to figure out, hey, something good happened," Wagnon said. "And it did, and I am tired of making excuses for it."

In 2012, though, Gov. Sam Brownback and his conservative allies successfully used Obamacare as a weapon to attack moderate Reublicans and take firm control of the Kansas Senate. Since then, Brownback has repeatedly tagged his Democratic challenger, Rep. Paul Davis of Lawrence, as an "Obama-style Democrat" and criticized Davis' support for the health reform law.

"Paul Davis has been fighting for Obamacare in Kansas for years so the announcement of Paul's embrace of Obamacare at Demofest is no surprise," Brownback spokesman John Milburn said.

But Davis, who has been less vocal than others about his support for the law, said he wasn't concerned about Republican criticisms this year.

"This is a state race here," Davis said Saturday. "Obamacare was enacted in Washington, D.C., and I'm not running for a job in Washington, D.C. We have issues that we've got to deal with at the state level and I've been up front about why I think expanding Medicaid (an option allowed under the federal law) is the right thing for the state."

The law established a mandate that most individuals carry health coverage that meets minimum standards or else pay a tax penalty. It also mandates employers with 50 or more full-time workers provide health coverage or pay a tax penalty.

It also provides funding for states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, the joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor, to cover all individuals and families with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. And for those with incomes above that level who cannot buy affordable coverage through their employers, it establishes marketplaces called "exchanges" where people can buy subsidized policies.

The Brownback administration has opted not to expand Medicaid eligibility in Kansas. And early in his administration, the governor returned a large federal grant the state had received to set up a state-based insurance exchange.

Still, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 57,000 Kansans had purchased insurance through the federal exchange as of March 31. And officials estimate another 100,000 would gain coverage if Kansas expanded Medicaid, as allowed under the law.

Anderson, the insurance commissioner candidate, criticized Brownback's program to privatize the state Medicaid program, which is now known as KanCare, as well as a bill passed this spring establishing a multi-state health care compact that would enable member states to administer all the federal health care dollars spent in those states, including Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly.

"BrownbackCare would take the money that's allocated for Medicare — the guaranteed benefits that nearly 450,000 of our senior citizens rely upon – and put it in Brownback's pocket to do with as he sees fit," Anderson said.

"We can only assume, as with the example of KanCare, that he would turn it over to several private companies in Topeka and manage it — maybe even the same three companies that have not been able to file a claim on time in any month during the year 2013."

Anderson faces Republican nominee Ken Selzer in the insurance commissioner race. Selzer has said he opposes the law and opposes expanding Medicaid in Kansas.

Comments

Mike Ford 8 months, 2 weeks ago

We applied for and got ACA Healthcare last November-December. I just mailed off my payment six days early yesterday. I've paid $1053.00 for our insurance to this point out of MY POCKET. I've paid STATE AND FEDERAL TAXES SINCE 1986. I've sent off proof of income, marriage status, and proof of citizenship for us since March. I laugh at all of the fear-mongering town criers that spread the nonsense that no verification would occur with the ACA bill. We are empirical proof that this act works for working class people. I went with BCBS of Kansas for insurance. It's a shame that FIFTY FIVE PERCENT of this state is willfully ignorant and talks zombie lies over and over even when facts refute them.

Kathleen Ammel 8 months, 1 week ago

As long as we're offering anecdotal evidence, I've paid $1990 to date for our insurance out of my pocket. The only plans offered on or off the exchange this year were double the premium & triple the deductible of what I already had but Coventry was nice enough to renew my plan last December so I didn't have to buy a more expensive/less coverage plan until this coming December. I, too, have paid state and federal taxes sinc 1986. I didn't have to send off a bunch of documentation to HHS (btw, why do you not complain about having to prove citizenship for this when you complain about proving citizenship to vote?). When the proverbial SHTF this December and premiums go up even higher, be sure to thank all those working class people who are paying for their own AND YOUR insurance.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

It sounds like you already had an insurance policy that you got to keep. Not everyone has that. Also, I think Mike Ford was addressing the lie that tea party types have been passing around that illegal immigrants were getting free insurance under the ACA. That is a lie, as is the death panels. The ACA is working for some, but not working for others. It does not mean we throw it out; it means we make adjustments and improvements. If you throw it out how many young people who are working jobs with no insurance will be taken off their parent's insurance? How many people with preexisting conditions will suddenly get dropped? How many cancer patients receiving life saving, but expensive treatment will suddenly be told they have reached their life time limit. Oh look at that. The ACA actually got rid of insurance death panels. How about that. Ads against the ACA have been fact checked over and over and found to be lies. There have been so many lies spread about the ACA, I'm not even sure I believe your situation. Not calling you a liar, it might be true, but your fellow haters of the ACA have told so many lies, it's understandable.

Dick Sengpiehl 8 months, 1 week ago

Dorothy,, I agree with your comment. Naysayers use FEAR and lies to back up their opinions. As far as Coventry is concerned, my wife and I found it to be a lousy insurer. It's the firm the school district uses and it just doesn't work. We are both on Medicare plus paying for a good supplement and that has made all the difference. And horrors! It's a Federal program. Some day many years from now we will be forced into a one payer system like most of the industrialized world.

Dick Sengpiehl 8 months, 1 week ago

Dorothy, I agree with your comment. Naysayers use fear and lies to back up their opinions. As far as Coventry is concerned it's nice that Ms Ammel had a good experience with Coventry. My wife and I think that Coventry did not do a good job for us. I think the school district still uses them. Co-pays are extremely high and their drug program not the best. We are both on Medicare now with a good supplement which is USAA and that has made all the difference. And horrors, Medicare is a Federal program. But it works. Take a look at what Brownback has done with KanCare and you should shudder concerning his plan to turn Medicare itself over to private companies. What would it be like if he turned Medicare money over to the same three companies in Topeka which has not been able to file a claim on time in any month during the year 2013, quotes Insurance Commission candidate Anderson.

Dick Sengpiehl 8 months, 1 week ago

Sorry, meant to post only one reply but inadvertently posted two very similar comments when I thought I was only editing the first. Suggested removal of the first comment. Don't hire me as an IT person for sure.

Mike Ford 8 months, 1 week ago

info for the fact avoiders.....since Kansas didn't set up an exchange the people in the federal exchange won't be at the whims of the price increases that the people in the state exchanges will. I guess you're another angry misinformed person. I filled my information to vote in May of 1988 at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Oskaloosa, KS, when I was 18. That should be good enough since I've stayed in Kansas the whole time. People who are afraid of becoming a statistical minority are the ones who push this voter verification nonsense. I wished they'd have the courage to come out and say as much.

Mike Ford 8 months, 1 week ago

oh yeah sarcastic,,,,,,I paid from $2500 to $3300 a year from 1998 to 2011 for health insurance until the profiteers pushed my company out. btw....most people know not to have Coventry in the first place. They don't pay every quickly.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 months, 1 week ago

As well they should....The Koch Regime Republican Terrorists own the Kansas Legislature and governor and have been dictating the instructions to their lackeys about all things that concern the citizens of Kansas. This racist opposition to the Affordable Care Law (and make no mistake, the racist opposition to the black President of the United States is very real) has got to go and the real truth about the Affordable Care Law has got to be properly promoted to the citizens of Kansas.

The Republicans oppose everything that the President and the Federal Government represent, this insurrection has been organized and spread by the party of "no" all over the country. This by the political party that was in second (I.E. "Last") place in doing something about health care and insurance and has done nothing since but bleat and moan about their failure to provide any sort of alternative.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

Fred, you really should read about past presidents like Lincoln and Kennedy. You might be surprised to learn that the criticism they faced was much more harsh than Obama has faced.

Read about what the right said about Kennedy. The criticism he faced was almost identical to that of Obama. He was called a communist, attacked for appeasing Russia, aiding our enemies while ignoring our allies and so on.

It is not about race, but ideology and politics.

Also, broaden your research on who is criticizing the president, it is not just whites, many blacks are very vocal about his failures.

Yes, some people are racist, but we will never change that and continuing to use your worn out race card is divisive, counter-product and takes away any credibility you may have.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

Hmmm. Was it only politics and ideology that had people attacking Kennedy for being Catholic (and therefore "not Christian") and "taking orders from the Pope?" Or was it perhaps discrimination against him for his religious beliefs? Was criticism of Lincoln's emancipation proclamation perhaps not also a bit of racism? And were any of the criticisms either of them received from the right correct? Was Kennedy actually a communist?

If your point is to try and pretend that conservatives have been historically bigots lobbing hyperbolic attacks, well, mission accomplished. Somehow I don't think that's what you were trying to say, though.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

Nope, not at all James. Let me break it down in simple terms for you. You and others act as if Obama was the first president to face criticism. He isn't. And you throw the race card because you see a black president and project the idea that his skin color makes him different onto others who criticize him.

It doesn't. He is just a president just like all the ones before him.

Of course, there will always be someone who does not like you because you're white or you're black or you're Catholic or you're Muslim or you're Mormon (remember the hate toward Romney). However this isn't the majority of the people and it doesn't matter if it were. It just goes with the job of being President.

Throwing the race card is a weak attempt to bully people into silence.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

Let me break it down in simple terms for you. You're making a strawman argument. I never said Obama is the first president to face criticism, and I haven't heard anyone else say that either. I don't believe I have been "throwing in the race card" anywhere where I didn't see a specific racially motivated attack, but do feel free to bring up a specific example of me doing so. Otherwise, let me speak for me, and let others speak for themselves. We're not a "you and others."

Interesting that you assert that it wouldn't matter if the majority of Obama's critics were racists (which, again, is not something I've ever said). Huh.

Accusing anyone who notices that there might be some racially motivated criticism of the president of "playing the race card," seems a lot like an attempt to bully people into silence. Just saying.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

James, you did interject yourself into a conversation between Fred and me where Fred most certainly did bring up race. Since you came to his defense, I assumed, and perhaps wrongly, you believed the way Fred did.

And it is not a strawman argument if it is directly related to what Fred wrote. It goes to the heart of his contention that the criticism leveled against Obama is racially motivated. Some may be but not all and it is no different than criticism leveled at white presidents.

James, don't think it is all about you. No one said or implied you made the so what if is a majority comment. I made it and stand by it. Criticism whether racially motivated or not goes with the job. Is a hateful comment made by a white person against a white president any less hateful than a white man against a black president?

Nope, now go ahead and tell me why I am wrong in your own words.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

Read the post. I criticized your examples. They were both pretty lousy, especially for your intended argument. That's not the same as agreeing with Fred. Er, the other Fred. I think his post was a bit hyperbolic, too, and I have a more nuanced view. But your post criticizing him by bringing up other presidents who faced bigotry-fueled opposition? Yeah, that was just silliness.

And yes, it's still a strawman argument if you're shooting down claims that someone else didn't even make. In fact, that's exactly what a strawman is. Neither of us said (or acted) like Obama was the only president to ever face criticism.

And yes, you're the one making (and doubling down on) the claim that it doesn't matter if the majority of the criticism Obama faces is racially motivated - while criticizing others for "playing the race card." That's some A+ chutzpah right there, brah.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

The difference between you and me is I can respond without resorting to insults. You can't and that is a true sign you've lost the argument.

My examples lousy? Have you read any if the criticism Lincoln or Kennedy faced? You could read the criticism of Kennedy to someone today and they'd swear it was about Obama.

He bright up race as the reason for the opposition to Obama. I countered it is not about race as the right has criticized other white presidents in the same manner. Definitely not strawman. And see how I was able to write this without stooping to calling your arguments silly or accusing you of chutzpah.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

I insulted your argument. I didn't insult you. Insulting an argument has never been a "true sign" of anything other than that the other person thought you made a dumb argument. Which you did. And continue to do. I've already addressed all your points. I told you the exact strawman argument you made - twice - and that wasn't it. Go back and read it all again.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

James let me start with the part you will like. I can agree that expanding Medicaid will not increase the deficit provided the offsets and the new taxes provide enough funding for it.

You need to better understand what a strawman argument is. You may not like my argument but Fred said the opposition to Obama was race based. I said it wasn't and cited similar criticism of white presidents. Again, you may disagree but it doesn't make it a strawman argument.

And go back and read your post, you put words into my mouth but I didn't get my panties in a bunch because I understood why you did it. No big deal.

But take solace in the fact that I concede your point on the deficit.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

You need to better understand what a strawman argument is. Seriously. I told you the exact strawman you made. Twice! Nobody in this thread made the claim that Obama was the first person to face criticism. Of any sort, including criticism from racists/bigots. That was your strawman. Since neither of us made that claim, it's a strawman argument when you try to debunk it.

I pointed out that both your examples were of racial/religious bigotry from conservative critics and probably not exactly what you had in mind, since the critics were on the wrong side of history in both of those cases.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

James, please understand the subtleties of language. I never said you said anything about Obama being the first president. I said you and others act like he is. It was an observation and I stand by it.

Here is the funny thing. You focus in whether my point is a strawman which is your way of deflecting from the real issue. Fact Obama has recieved criticism. Fact he has received no more than past presidents. Not a fact the criticism toward Obama is based on his race.

If you disagree prove it. Otherwise I'm done with this and moving to other posts.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

Nice irony. I think your focus on defending your strawman is an attempt to deflect from the fact that you don't have a strong argument. On what supporting information are you going to base this quantity of criticism? ("Fact he has received no more than past presidents. ") Do you have some sort of qualitative analysis of critiques of previous presidents that you've performed? If you can at least cite one that would be a very interesting read. Keep in mind that the existence of criticism is not a measurement of quantity.

FYI - nobody in this thread argued that he'd received the most criticism of all time. I do mean it that it would be an interesting read, but it would be totally beside the point. Goalpost moving, as it were.

As far as your next point - and both of you generalized waaaay too much here. I can point to a few racial or coded racial attacks on Obama. Which means that yes, racially motivated attacks exist. Denying it is just silly. If you want to argue that not all of it is racially motivated, I'd have to agree. When you say something is a "fact," you're going to have to be prepared to back it up. Generally what you're labeling as "facts" in this discussion are actually "opinions."

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

You say you can point to racially motivated attacks, but you didn't. You've now convinced me that you're just trolling and not worthy of any future discussions.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

That took about two seconds of googling. http://www.defshepherd.com/2012/10/racism-is-alive-and-well-35-incredibly.html

Seriously, are you that sheltered that you've never seen a racially motivated Obama attack?

As far as racially motivated attacks specific to the ACA, check out this book excerpt. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-haney-lopez/obamacare-dog-whistle-politics_b_4759499.html

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

As an aside, James. That anti Catholic bigotry is still alive and well. In the last 10 years I had a couple of students telling me that Catholics weren't Christians. When I tell them that 600 years ago, if they were Christians, they were Catholic, and explain the Reformation to them, they are confused. This has to be coming from their bigoted parents. This bigotry is also how some politicians are trying to claim that these kids coming illegally into the country are Muslims, even though I'll bet 99% of them are Catholic. And there are people out there who will believe them, because of their bigoted ignorance of the history of their own religion.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

Oh yes. The bigotry is alive, although not as commonly used politically. Not even to dog whistle. Anti-Muslim bigotry is still in vogue, though, and it's often used as code for other types of bigotry. Hence the "secret Muslim" line of attack on Obama.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

It turns out that people have been conditioned to hate "ObamaCare" but they don't actually hate what the law does when it is explained to them outside Fox News. It's really about time people pushed back. Running on "I want to make sure you can't afford insurance and get dropped from your coverage as soon as you get sick" is really not much of a stand.

Angela de Rocha 8 months, 1 week ago

Some inconvenient facts: When KanCare was created, Kansas Medicaid was already 80 percent privatized, that is, already was a managed care program and had been since 1988. Medicaid is expanding in Kansas; KanCare has added 80,000 Kansans to its rolls since last fall. Only able-bodied adults with no dependents are excluded from Medicaid/KanCare. No one can state with any certainty that the number of uninsured in Kansas is going up. That information will not be available from the Census Bureau until fall, 2015. Anything else is just conjecture. The growth in Medicaid/Kancare indicates that Medicaid access issues are not driving any alleged increase in the number of uninsured in our state. If, indeed, the availability of private insurance coverage in Kansas is taking a hit, that would be caused by increased costs that are a result of Obamacare mandates and requirements. Trying to change the subject does not change the fact that a majority of Americans continue to disapprove of Obamacare, as reported by Gallup. The implementation of KanCare has saved the state Medicaid program more than $100 million so far, and slowed the skyrocketing growth in costs the Brownback administration faced upon taking office. A significant amount of those savings has been used to reduce the waiting lists for the state's disability waiver programs -- programs that had fallen by the wayside under the previous two administrations. Finally, this statement leaves me puzzled: " ... maybe even the same three (KanCare) companies that have not been able to file a claim on time in any month during the year 2013." What claims do they file, and with whom do they file them? This statement represents a profound misunderstand about the way Medicaid and KanCare operate and are structured. Angela de Rocha, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

Some inconvenient facts: The KanCare shift is part of an FBI investigation over fundraising and lobbying. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/07/us/politics/associates-of-kansas-governor-are-investigated-over-fund-raising-and-lobbying.html

None of the three contractors managed to meet benchmarks for timely claims processing.

KanCare could have benefited from the ACA "Obamacare" but Brownback left that money on the table. Brownback left 31 million dollars on the table when he did not establish a Kansas exchange, and he left far, far more than that on the table when he did not expand Medicaid. Kansas was one of the only states to see an increase in the uninsured. That's far more damaging that not creating those extra jobs to run the exchange. That's our lives and health he's damaging.

Fact - those waiver programs begged Brownback not to fold them into KanCare. They held protests. The claim that the waiting lists would be shrunk was done to try and quell the upset. They should have been a carve out. That "shrunk" waiting list still includes people who have been waiting for six or more years for services.

Even bright red Kentucky managed to create Kynect through the ACA and help their state's residents gain health care. It's a popular program, though most of the residents don't actually realize it's Obamacare. Because, you're right. People don't like "Obamacare." They like the things the ACA does.

Carol Bowen 8 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for the information Angela. However, it would be more credible without your obvious bias. Instead of referring to "Obamacare mandates and requirements", try "The ACA minimum standards at each policy level". How can the public develop an informed opinion with such bias coming from a state government employee? It is inappropriate for a government employee to campaign.

Richard Heckler 8 months, 1 week ago

It is absolutely absurd for a sitting governor to turn away federal tax dollars that belong to all Kansas taxpayers.

It is absolutely absurd for a sitting governor to turn away federal tax dollars because that it is "personal agenda matter" for the ALEC GOP.

--- http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures#Voter

It is absolutely absurd for a sitting governor to turn away federal tax dollars for any damn reason.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

Yeah the fact that they are borrowed dollars mean nothing to you Richard. It is free money right? Maybe if you don't pay taxes it is, but for those of us who do it is a portion of our pay check. It is part of my federal and my state taxes.

Obama should have done a better job of writing the law so this key component wouldn't have been ruled unconstitutional.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

You do realize that neither your federal tax bill nor the deficit would have changed as a result of expanding medicaid, right?

Philipp Wannemaker 8 months, 1 week ago

Don't confuse Fred with facts, his tea addiction won't allow reality to penetrate his brain.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

Can't wait to see the facts you share that prove spending more federal dollars doesn't increase the deficit.

Difference between expenses and revenue equal the deficit. More expenses without offsetting revenue increases results in a higher deficit. Higher deficit means borrowing more which increase our debt.

Come on Phil tell me where I am wrong. If I am I will admit it.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

You're addicted to strawman arguments today. I didn't say "spending more federal dollars doesn't increase the deficit"

What I said is that neither your tax bill nor the deficit would change. The ACA was built with revenue offsets. Repealing it would actually increase the deficit more than continuing with it. Your taxes aren't going to change with Kansas opting in or opting out.

Brock Masters 8 months, 1 week ago

James, how do you figure the deficit would not change. If the federal government were to pay for the expansion in Kansas it would mean spending more money than if it didn't pay for it. More money going out increases the deficit.

Tell me where I am wrong?

Phillip, you can jump in too if you'd like. It isn't magic money. The Feds aren't sending KS money today but of we expand Medicaid they would so how does that not increase the deficit? And since we don't have enough revenue now we have to borrow. More expenses means borrowing more.

Waiting for your response.

Carol Bowen 8 months, 1 week ago

Obamacare needs some work, no doubt, but the ACA is very broad. It would have been impossible to forsee every outcome. Congress has wasted a lot of time not making adjustments as needed. (Social Security still needs changes to adapt to current conditions. That's not a crime, and a couple of changes would fix Social Security for a long time.) It's the shrill politics that confuse the issues. I think the Democrats are on the right track publicizing the ACA's achievements, so far, rather than cowering to the opposition. That's the only way we bystanders will get a good overview.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

It's really very frustrating. They could fix it or propose a better plan, but instead all they do is sabotage what little we already have.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

Exactly. If they did repeal this act, then I think people would be amazed at what they would lose. But they keep supporting the tunnel vision. I guess it's easier, and they don't have to understand the details. Black or white, no shades of gray.

Angela de Rocha 8 months, 1 week ago

Some more inconvenient facts: "None of the three contractors managed to meet benchmarks for timely claims processing." Denial rates and claims processing are better under KanCare than they were under old Medicaid. "KanCare could have benefited from the ACA "Obamacare" but Brownback left that money on the table...." The federal government is broke and broken. You really believe Congress will live up to its funding promises when reduction of the federal portion of Medicaid funding was already on the table during last budget go-round? You want to take some bets on how much higher state tax rates would have to be after we bought into the pig in a poke? "Waiver programs ..." Change is difficult and those invested in status quo resist. You denigrate the work of a number of non-political program staff for the hard work they have put in to reducing the waiting lists -- efforts that were never undertaken under previous administrations. Some facts about how it all turned out: • More people on the HCBS waivers experienced increases in services under their plans of care than experienced decreases under KanCare • Under KanCare the claim denial rate for DD waiver services is less than 2 percent; claim payment turnaround time is six days • More people on the HCBS waivers experienced increases in services under their plans of care than experienced decreases • Primary care physician utilization increased by more than one-third from 2012 under old Medicaid to 2013 under KanCare. • Hospital emergency room utilization for KanCare consumers went down 4 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 under old Medicaid; for HCBS program participants it has been reduced by 27 percent • Inpatient hospital days have decreased 29 percent compared to old Medicaid • Under KanCare we have seen a 25 percent increase from 2012 under old Medicaid to 2013 under Kancare in the utilization of transportation services.

Carol Bowen 8 months, 1 week ago

Angela, It is definitely difficult to rely on Congress, but it doesn't help to denigrate Congress or the ACA from your office. I appreciate the Kancare information. If there are specific non-political problems between the ACA and Kancare, I'd like to know more.

James Howlette 8 months, 1 week ago

Man, for a PR person, you sure don't know how to use a paragraph. It's virtually impossible to tease out your "facts," since they're not presented in a way that actually communicates. I realize that this forum does weird things with bullet points, but it wouldn't hurt you to proof your post after you make it. Or adopt a professional tone, for that matter. I can't believe they pay you money for this. But that's all off topic. Let's get to the meat here.

Define "better" and why "denial rates" was lumped in with "claims processing." Does "better" mean more denials? Change is hard, especially when you've set out on the wrong path and refuse to admit your mistake. Those non political people work in spite of your efforts, and they don't say happy things about the switch. Not because "change," but because 'badly done, ham-fisted change." Like incompetent appointments (cough) http://cjonline.com/news/2014-06-06/kancare-inspector-general-resigns-amid-questions And scandal. http://cjonline.com/news/2014-04-26/sources-fbi-examines-lobbying-brownback-loyalists

As far as the "broken and broke" claim, well, I do think the GOP (and your boss in particular) has a lot to answer for for all the breaking they're doing to the government right now, but the CBO says it will cost more to repeal than it does to continue the ACA. Smart politicians even stopped campaigning on the notion.

Since the money has already been allocated to pay for the Medicaid expansion and efforts to repeal it have failed, the only way that they don't pay for it is if they repeal/defund the ACA (increasingly unlikely) or engage in some sort of catastrophic brinkmanship.

A wise leader would expand Medicaid with the provision that they could end the expansion should the funding ever dry up. Otherwise, we're all paying for it right now. It's not just in our rare ability in Kansas to increase our uninsured rate. It's in increased health care costs. Increased costs to support LMH. Workers who fall into the Medicaid gap. We all pay for your boss' sins. We all pay.

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