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Health

Rural Health Group Member Hopeful It’s A Serious Effort

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A Kansas lawmaker appointed to a group formed by Gov. Sam Brownback to address rural health issues says he hopes it’s not an attempt to divert attention from the issue of Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Jim Kelly wants to participate in any effort to help rural hospitals. That’s because the Independence Republican represents a community that recently lost its only hospital.

Kelly believes expanding Kansas’ Medicaid program might have kept his hospital open. But he says it is unlikely expansion will happen any time soon because of continuing opposition from the Gov. Brownback and Republican legislative leaders.

So, he’s hopeful the rural health working group formed by Brownback and headed by Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer can come up with other ways of taking the pressure off of rural providers.

“To find a way that’s acceptable to bring expanded health care options into rural areas and to find a way that the providers can be paid for the services," Kelly says.

Kelly is one of four legislators named to the group, which also includes the head of the state’s health agency and the CEO of a rural hospital in southwest Kansas.