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Health care industry awaits changes in federal, state laws

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at 5:36 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at 6:59 p.m.

With big changes in the state’s Medicaid program, further implementation of federal health care measures and looming budget cuts, 2013 is shaping up to be something of a cliff-hanger for health care.

Now that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, health care leaders say they’ll be tracking its implementation and entitlement changes – including Medicaid and Medicare funding – in 2013.

Matt Leary, Wesley Medical Center CFO, said the main concern is implementation of KanCare, the state’s new privatized Medicaid program set to start Tuesday.

“How that implementation works and how these new managed care organizations work with providers is going to be a big concern,” Leary said. “We see a lot of Medicaid in our hospitals and clinics.”

Wesley is also concerned about Wichita’s economic health, in part because high-quality jobs correlate with high-quality health care benefits for workers.

Jeff Korsmo, Via Christi CEO, said his organization also is following the possible expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Bell, executive director of the Kansas Hospital Association, said the No. 1 issue on its radar is the “fiscal cliff” bleeding into 2013 and the effect that will have on reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid.

The potential to expand Medicaid in the state is also of interest to clinics that treat higher rates of Medicaid patients. If the program, which provides health care to low-income residents, expands, it likely would mean more funds for those facilities through government reimbursement programs.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including the state’s default to a federally run health insurance exchange, is a big “wait and see,” said Jerry Slaughter, executive director of the Kansas Medical Society.

“It’s going to really begin to change the shape of employer-based health insurance pretty dramatically,” said Slaughter, who thinks smaller employers might increase employees’ compensation and then have them purchase their own insurance on the exchange as a way to contain business costs for health care.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com.

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