Daily Archives: Dec. 2, 2012

No backup plan for KanCare

The state has no backup plan in case the federal government rejects or partially rejects or delays KanCare – even though its plan to convert Medicaid to a privately managed program is set to start on Jan. 1. State officials expect a decision from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services any day now, and they remain confident that KanCare will be approved. “I think it’s moving along very famously,” said Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. But the Kansas Health Institute News Service noted that if federal officials based their decision on the public comments posted on the CMS website and those made during an hour-long conference call last week, KanCare would be rejected or at least postponed. “Response in those venues has been overwhelmingly critical of the plan or its implementation,” it reported.

Legislature losing a lot of expertise

Last week’s meeting of the 15-member Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight, which looked at a Legislative Post Audit report on the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka, highlighted how much expertise and institutional knowledge were lost in the 2012 legislative elections. The panel’s chairman and vice chairwoman, Sen. Pete Brungardt of Salina and Rep. Pat Colloton of Leawood, were both ousted by conservative challengers in the governor’s moderate purge in the GOP primary, as were committee members Sen. Dick Kelsey of Goddard (who has experience in juvenile justice issues) and Sen. Tim Owens of Overland Park. And Sen. Kelly Kultala, D-Kansas City, who had requested the audit, lost in the general election, as did Rep. Jana Goodman, R-Leavenworth. Between the court-ordered redistricting plan and GOP primary turnover, the Legislature will have more than 50 new members in 2013.

Income-tax cuts will reduce money available for bioscience

Among the little-discussed consequences of the state’s big tax-cut plan is how it will affect the Kansas Bioscience Authority, which gets the money it uses to fund bioscience initiatives from income-tax withholdings at bioscience companies. As they exempt the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from state income taxes, “the tax cuts will reduce the withholding available for bioscience,” confirmed the spokeswoman for Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan, who was an architect of the Kansas Economic Growth Act that created the authority while he served in the state Senate. But the authority has seen the state cap its annual funding over the past four or five years to about $35 million, and the tax bill “shouldn’t have any impact on” that amount of funding, Jordan’s spokeswoman said. Still, if Gov. Sam Brownback and his allies eventually succeed in eliminating the state income tax entirely, the funding stream and goals of the 2004 bioscience law will be undermined.