Health Center News

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas is the subject of a recent Associated Press report on the impact of citizen documentation requirements for Medicaid. The report featured the plight of parents of a feverish 4-year-old boy who held off bringing him to the health center because the boy no longer had Medicaid coverage. His Hispanic parents, who could not speak English, did not understand the new Medicaid system rules requiring proof of citizenship and were so overwhelmed by other medical bills they were reluctant to bring the boy in sooner, according to Krista Postai, chief executive officer at the health center. Between 18,000 and 20,000 Kansans about three-fourths of them children have lost Medicaid benefits in the wake of the new federal rules that went into effect July 1 requiring families to submit proof of identity and citizenship, according to AP. The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has seen a 42 percent increase in the number of uninsured children it has treated in the past six months and a 68 percent increase in medical services overall, Postai said. THe health center has charged patients $30,000 in the last six months and collected just $16,000 of it, Postai said, adding the clinic can’t go on too long operating like that. About 16 percent of the clinic’s budget is federal grant money targeted to care for the uninsured.

“Ultimately we are doing more with less. That is how we are living. I have staff that comes in and works on their day off, and they are salaried and don’t make any extra money,” Postai told AP. “My salaried people are here later and later and later, and they are tired.”