What is Going On with the Medicaid Expansion in Kansas?

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Legislators in Kansas devoted a great deal of time last week to debating whether or not to expand Medicaid, an option that was made available to the state by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Presently, Kansas offers Medicaid coverage to pregnant women whose incomes are 166% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and below, and it offers Medicaid coverage to parents whose incomes are 33% of the FPL and below. Depending on the age of the child, the Kansas state Medicaid program also offers health insurance to children whose families make between 133% of the FPL and below and 166% of the FPL and below. The Kansas state Medicaid program does not offer health insurance coverage to childless adults.

How the Medicaid Expansion Would Affect Kansas

The ACA initially authorized a mandatory expansion of the Medicaid program that was set to begin on January 1, 2014. Under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, virtually every non-elderly adult with an income of 138% of the FPL or below would be eligible for Medicaid. The federal government would pay for 100% of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion costs until the end of 2016. The federal government would then gradually decrease its share of funding for the Medicaid expansions every year until 2020, after which time it would pay for 90% of each state’s Medicaid expansion.

A 2012 Supreme Court decision made it optional for states to accept the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Thus far Kansas has chosen not to adopt the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Over 150,000 Kansans would be eligible for Medicaid if the state broadened its Medicaid program. According to a thorough analysis by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (available here), a law and consulting firm, the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas should be budget neutral between 2016 and 2020. The debate in Kansas about whether to broaden Medicaid eligibility has been going on for years, and, as noted above, last week state lawmakers dedicated a lot of time to the issue. Here is what happened each day the state legislature convened.


On Monday, the Health and Human Services Committee of the Kansas House of Representatives passed a motion to postpone the consideration of a bill that would expand Medicaid in the state until April 3 or later. At the time the committee was debating whether to send the Medicaid expansion bill to the entire House so all Representative members could vote on it. One Republican lawmaker indicated that he believed the tabling of the bill meant that the House would not vote on it during the current legislative session.


But at least one House member who supported the Medicaid expansion did not give up. On Tuesday, Representative Jim Ward, a Democrat who is the House minority leader, filed a motion to move the Medicaid expansion bill from the Health and Human Services Committee to the broader House of Representatives. 70 members of the House needed to vote in favor of the motion in order to force a vote about the Medicaid expansion on the House floor.


On Wednesday, 83 members of the House voted to add a Medicaid expansion clause to another bill. The passage of this motion paved the way for the entire House to vote on whether or not to broaden Medicaid eligibility.


On Thursday, the House voted – by a margin of 81 to 44 – to broaden Medicaid eligibility in Kansas.

What’s Next? (said in the voice of Jeb Bartlet)

Next the Kansas Senate will consider whether or not to expand Medicaid. If members of the Senate Public Health and Wellness Committee provide enough support to the Medicaid expansion bill, it will move to the Senate floor and be voted on by the full Senate. People in favor of broadening Medicaid eligibility will speak to legislators at a hearing that is tentatively scheduled for March 20. Barring a date change, individuals who are against the Medicaid expansion are going to appear at a hearing that will occur on March 21.

In the event that the Kansas Senate passes a bill that broadens Medicaid eligibility, it would then go to the office of Governor Brownback, who would decide whether to veto or sign it. Although Governor Brownback has been hesitant to support the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas, on Thursday he indicated that he believed Congress should preserve this part of the ACA. In the event that the Senate passes the Medicaid expansion and Governor Brownback vetoes it, 84 members of the House and 27 members of the Senate would need to vote in favor of the measure in order to override his veto.

Featured image (of the Kansas House of Representatives) from http://www.civics.ks.gov/img/legislative/house-chamber.jpg

Steve Bowden is a health policy consultant and an MPH in health policy student at George Washington University. He had previously worked as a research assistant in the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management. A version of this blog post was previously published at https://medicaidmattersblog.wordpress.com/.


How to Handle Recruiting, from Someone Who has Been There

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By Regina Desantis (MPH Class of 2015)

(AKA how to get into “the room where it happens”)

You were accepted into a highly respected program in the only school for public health in an area where sweeping decisions and innovations in healthcare happen daily, and, if you are reading this, you are being proactive in your job hunt.

Well done.

However, there are no guarantees in life besides death and taxes.

The job market is prohibitive at best, and in DC, it’s particularly saturated; a Master’s, resume, and network alone cannot secure a job. The final hurdle is developing a strategy for the recruitment process. While there is no formula to guarantee being hired, here are some suggestions, based on my own and several friends’ experiences, to assist you during recruitment. Read the rest of this entry »

Updated: HPSA Elections

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UPDATED: Congratulations to the 2016-17 HPSA Board!

  • President Nikki Kanthety
  • VP of Programming & Events: Bianca Desai
  • VP of Communications: Stephen Bowden
  • VP of Mentorship: Micah Earley
  • VP of Finance: Amelia Whitman

President: The HPSA President serves as a liaison between health policy students and HPM faculty. You will oversee four committees: Mentorship, Finance, Communications, and Programming. You will be responsible for communicating and coordinating with each board member and his/her corresponding committee. The President attends HPSA events and provides programming assistance as needed. The President plans regular meetings with the board and sets both near and long-term goals/objectives for the organization. You will collaborate with other student leaders throughout the School of Public Health and attend biweekly PHSA meetings. Finally, the President coordinates service opportunities for health policy students.

VP of Programming & Events: Your responsibilities include planning career-enhancing and networking events, such as panels, workshops and academically-driven seminars.  In addition to these activities, you will also be responsible for planning social events that enhance the graduate student experience.  A person in this position should be a comfortable with organizing events and coordinating with different departments at GW such as Career Services and the Center for Student Engagement.

VP of Communications: Your primary responsibilities revolve around email, the blog and social media. Each week, you will send out the HPSA Monday Memo, detailing upcoming HPSA (or other GW public health) events, interesting/recent news stories, awesome HPSA or public health involvement opportunities and the blog. The blog is a fantastic place to showcase your own writing on public health or policy issues you find interesting, as well as offering your classmates a platform to share their ideas. You will manage the blog schedule, correspond with interested students, seek new writers and promote the content in the weekly memo and on social media. The HPSA Facebook page is a great way to invite students to upcoming HPSA events and feature blog content. You should be prepared to schedule time each week to send the Monday Memo, including time to cultivate content for the body of the email. This position requires someone with excellent written communication skills and attention to detail. Familiarity with WordPress would be a plus.

VP of Mentorship Program: This position is responsible for planning periodic programming to engage all current mentors and mentees in the HPSA mentorship program. In addition, to planning events, you will be responsible for recruitment of mentors and mentees for the upcoming cycle. A person in this position should be comfortable reaching out to many in the health policy community, creating marketing materials and holding social events with a keen eye for detail to keep track of all moving pieces.

VP of Finance: Your primary jurisdiction is over the budget. You will be responsible for requesting funds through the GWU OrgSync portal and updating the rest of the HPSA Board on the amount of funds remaining. You will also need to be willing to work with other HPSA Board members to plan events, and be able to relay messages to the Board regarding the status of funding requests. This position requires someone with great attention to detail, an ability to submit timely funding requests and work with other student leaders to secure necessary funds, and enthusiasm to collaborate with other health policy students to create unique events for other students.

[Heroes and] Scholars Enjoy Health Policy and Management Month

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Rachel GunsalasBy Rachel Gunsalus

In contrast to the winter break travel destinations of Milken students, the District can seem rather bleak in January. Reacclimating to the graduate school routine can prove challenging, with historical lows hovering around freezing temperature and the summer’s bike commutes and patio-seating happy hours but distant memories. After a four-week break from classes, students fitfully lurched out of their holiday jammies and begrudgingly went back to remembering what day of the week it was, but little did they know that some people on campus had already been waiting in the wings for them. Their readjustment had been anticipated since before their return, and for these returning students—there were a million things they hadn’t done. Just you wait—because January was Public Health Student Association’s Health Policy and Management month. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Discount the Private Sector

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MariaAbricaBy Maria E. Abrica, MPH

I am a self-described health policy nerd, so it was only appropriate that I completed my MPH at GW with a Health Policy concentration back in May 2015. Just like many of you, I too aspired to be a change agent by being a part of making the world of public health a better place. I left beautiful, sunny California to come to DC to make a career out of that aspiration, and I did and continue to do so.

Now, interestingly enough, I am currently working as a Research Consultant at The Lewin Group, a national health care and human services consulting firm. I did not imagine I’d be working in the private sector post-graduate school, but I am so happy I did.

Here are just a few reasons why: Read the rest of this entry »

February 8, 2016: Upcoming Events in D.C.

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upcoming eventsCheck out some of these health-care related opportunities around town! 

February 1, 2016: Upcoming Events in D.C.

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upcoming eventsCheck out some of these health-care related opportunities around town!