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Budget Item Would Assist Kan. Hospitals

Hospitals in Kansas could lose some federal money if the state doesn't expand Medicaid services under the federal health care law. A lawmaker helping to draft the budget says the state needs to consider assisting those hospitals.

Many hospitals receive payments to help them cover the cost of medical care for the uninsured; they are known as disproportionate shared hospital payments. As the federal health care law continues, the focus will move to funding more Medicaid services, meaning the current disproportionate share funds could be reduced or completely eliminated. 

Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, says those payments are critical for some hospitals.

"Out in the rural areas, with their critical access hospitals, a lot of times it is a significant revenue stream for them," he says. "Without it they would not be able to continue operations."

The payments are funded jointly by the state and the federal government.

Denning says it is looking like Kansas may not expand Medicaid, so he would like the state to keep paying its share to the hospitals, which is around $30 million, even if the federal payments go away.

A conference committee is considering the plan as they continue work on the budget.