Clinic and patients brace for effects of Medicaid cuts in Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Health care could become harder to obtain if you're covered by KanCare, the Medicaid program in Kansas. Starting this month, the state is cutting $38-million from what it pays many doctors, clinics and hospitals. Most of those providers are in urban areas including Kansas City.

Val Baul says she struggled to find health care being uninsured. This year, she got Medicaid, health coverage for the needy, and found it's not much easier.

"Actually tried to call probably about seven psychiatrists and no one takes Medicaid," Baul said.

She finally found help at Mercy and Truth Medical Missions' clinic.

"You can come in as a Medicaid patient, as a poor person, and actually be cared about," she said.

Mercy and Truth is seeing more Medicaid patients, and it could see even more as other providers limit the number they see. That's because July 1, the money the state pays may doctors, clinics and hospitals for the care dropped by four percent. Governor Sam Brownback made the cut to help fill a massive budget hole.

Mercy and Truth is hit by the cut, but is continuing its commitment to Medicaid patients. The executive director hopes donors will make up the difference.

"We have to begin to talk to our foundation partners. We have to go out into the community and ask for donations from people that care about what we do," said Geofrey Kigenyi.

He said if that doesn't work, uninsured patients who also come to the clinic could be affected.

"We may begin to see increases in fees on those who are uninsured which begins to reduce access to care for some of our patients," Kigenyi said.

"I don't understand why we're trying to balance Kansas' budget on the back of poor people," Baul said.

The state's budget director has said the cuts were not easy decisions.

Hospitals say the lower Medicaid reimbursements add to their troubles. They say they're already being hurt by Kansas not expanding Medicaid to include many of the uninsured.

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