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Medicaid Forum Explores Indiana's Conservative Model Of Expansion

Mike Sherry
Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas is one of 20 states that have refused to expand Medicaid. At a forum in Overland Park Tuesday on KanCare, Kansas’ privatized version of Medicaid, a leader of Indiana’s push to expand the program explained how his very conservative state managed to do it.

Doug Leonard, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, told about 300 people at the forum that the state’s very conservative governor, Mike Pence, insisted on a program built around the concept of personal responsibility.

“That was said so many times, a personal responsibility feature, by Gov. Pence, that I thought it was tattooed on his backside," Leonard said.

Leonard said expansion succeeded in Indiana because no new taxes were raised to pay for it and each newly covered person has to contribute something to get enhanced benefits.

About 138,000 Kansans would be eligible if Medicaid were expanded to 138 percent of the poverty level--as envisioned under Obamacare--from the current 33 percent.

Former Kansas Senate President Dave Kerr told the audience that more than half of those people are employed. He endorsed expansion along the lines of the Indiana model.

Dan Margolies is editor in charge of health news at KCUR, the public radio station in Kansas City. Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.