Legislature’s Medicaid panel tussles again on Gov. Colyer’s reform plan

By Tim Carpenter, April 23, 2018

The Kansas Legislature’s committee providing oversight of Medicaid churned through hours of testimony from dozens of people Monday before concluding with a round of fingerpointing about political motivation for demanding or blocking reversal of a vote favorable to Gov. Jeff Colyer.

Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, and Sen. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, tried to launch debate in the joint House-Senate committee about rescinding the panel’s previous endorsement of Colyer’s strategy for upgrading KanCare, the privatized version of Medicaid that’s existed since 2013.

The chairman, Wichita Republican Rep. Dan Hawkins, said there was no reason for the committee to do anything regarding overhaul of what Colyer calls KanCare 2.0. The House and Senate will embed the budget with provisions thwarting the GOP governor’s changes to Medicaid, Hawkins said.

Of course, Colyer could veto language in a bill blocking his vision of Medicaid. The program serves more than 400,000 elderly and disabled Kansans.

“I think Dan’s angling for a job for the next four years,” said Ward, who believes Hawkins acted on Colyer’s behalf. “We have a majority of people on this committee who have expressed themselves in public that they’re opposed to it.”

Hawkins, amused by Ward’s theory about his job aspirations, said some committee members targeting Colyer had an obvious political agenda. Three members of the joint committee are campaigning for statewide office in 2018. Two of them, Ward and Topeka Sen. Laura Kelly, are running for governor.

“Somebody running for governor?” Hawkins said. “Actually, I’m not angling for a job. Would I be honored if I were given that opportunity? Hell, yes. But I’m not angling. I’m just trying to do my job.”

Hawkins said there wasn’t sufficient time left in the 2018 legislative session to weigh a complex bill on KanCare. Recommendations drafted in December fit with start of the 2019 session in January, he said.

Bollier said more than 35 agency officials, service providers, disability rights advocates and recipients of Medicaid devoted the day to explaining their views of KanCare. Instead of promptly responding, she said, the committee will wait nine months.

“I’m very disappointed,” Bollier said. “Nothing changed, because we’re not allowed to per the chairman. I would tell people in the state to find out who those people are ... who won’t allow democracy to progress. What’s going on with that?”

http://www.cjonline.com/news/20180423/legislatures-medicaid-panel-tussles-again-on-gov-colyers-reform-plan

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