Senate passes cuts to 2010 budget, including 10 percent cut to Medicaid provider payments

TOPEKA – The Senate passed the governor’s recommended cuts to the current budget with few changes.

The measure, Senate substitute for House Bill 2222, passed 36-4 and now goes to the House for debate.

The bill encompassed the cuts recommended by Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat,  in November.

Senators rejected, 16-24, an amendment, by Sen. Jeff Colyer, R-Overland Park, a practicing plastic surgeon, which would have restored the governor’s 10 percent cuts to Medicaid providers.

Medicaid provides health care coverage to low-income adults and children. The cuts would affect providers such as doctors, nursing homes and those that care for the developmentally disabled. Many worry the cuts could make it more difficult for patients who rely on Medicaid to access services.

“The governor’s choice is a wrong choic,e first for the health care of Kansas and second for the economy of Kansas,” Colyer said.

He noted that the $22 million Kansas would save with the cut would mean losing about $77 million from the federal government.

Most of the almost two-hour debate focused on Colyer’s amendment.

Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, said it was “disgraceful to use the disadvantaged of our state to pressure us to increase taxes.”

Most senators disagreed though, and said restoring the cuts to the latter half of fiscal year 2010, which ends June 31, would cause bigger problems in the future.

“If this would happen, I believe we will be in further trouble than we are now,” said Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan, a physician.

Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said the vote was a very difficult decision for her since her district encompasses the second highest number of nursing homes, which will be affected by the cuts.

“I’m more concerned about what is going to happen next year,” she said.

In committee, the Senate did restore some money to the legislative budget to would allow lawmakers to have a 90-day session.