Kari Bruffett, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, wrote in a commentary in The Eagle that the state needs “broad, pragmatic solutions” for improving its mental health system. The change that would have the biggest impact by far – and at relatively minimal cost to the state – would be to allow a federal expansion of Medicaid. According to the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, 53 percent of the people treated at community mental health centers in Kansas are uninsured, and 70 percent of them have incomes of less than $20,000. Expanding Medicaid would qualify thousands of Kansans to receive federally funded mental health services, helping them live healthier and more productive lives. But the Topeka Capital-Journal reported last week that a panel tasked with seeking solutions was discouraged by a KDADS official from recommending Medicaid expansion, which Gov. Sam Brownback has opposed. To its credit, the panel reportedly may recommend it anyway. – Phillip Brownlee
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