March 4, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Medicaid expansion won’t save rural hospitals

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Preventing rural hospitals from closing is one of the main arguments legislators face in the less-populated areas of Kansas, but a study done for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment disproves that theory.  Most of the money would go to large, urban hospitals; many rural hospitals would receive less than $1 million, including a long list that would receive less than $250,000.

The complete list of payment projections from AON show Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott would have received $2.3 million.  But Mercy was losing much more money than it would have received from Medicaid expansion and closed in 2018.

A year later, Fort Scott city officials are finding that they do not need a hospital. As the Sentinel reported in early January, city officials found that the doctors in the area were able to cover the needs of the community with a hospital 30 miles away and the Kansas City metro 90 miles away, residents found their medical needs no longer required a local hospital.

As the Sentinel reported when the agreement between Governor Laura Kelly and Senator Denning was announced, hospitals agreed to pay $35 million dollars in fees to go towards the cost of expanding Medicaid in the state. Hospitals in Kansas are set to make at least $1 billion a year from Medicaid expansion.  However, the fees that hospitals agreed to pay would be passed along to patients.

Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning (R-Overland Park) put out a press release to combat what he claims are myths regarding Medicaid expansion because, as he put it, “the public is mindlessly following media reports or parties spreading lies.” Denning did not cite which media reports he claims are lies.

In regards to rural hospitals, Denning mentioned the supposed “myth” that rural hospitals would suffer under a Medicaid expansion but provided no examples of said myth. In more than a year of covering Medicaid expansion, the Sentinel has never run across this claim. Quite the opposite. Publications from KHA and the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas tout that a major reason for expansion is to keep rural hospitals afloat.

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