Legislators critical of budget, managed care plans for state

State Rep. Emily Perry addresses the crowd as Melissa Rooker, Stephanie Clayton, Barbara Bollier and Kay Wolf listen.

The state senator and four state representatives for northeast Johnson County head back to Topeka this week for the so-called veto session where a state budget and tax plan will be the main agenda items. Saturday they explained to their constituents the events and bills that often put them in a minority voting ‘no’ on bills favored by the administration and conservative legislature.

State Sen. Kay Wolf and State Reps. Barbara Bollier, Melissa Rooker, Stephanie Clayton, and Emily Perry took questions from a crowd at Village Presbyterian Church. While many questions were about tax and finance, Bollier, a retired physician, laid out objections to a coming expansion of KanCare that will absorb management of non-medical services for the developmentally disabled after this year. KanCare is a managed care system for state Medicaid recipients run by three private insurance companies.

“Most Medicaid dollars are spent in the disability realm”, Bollier said. It does not cover adults without children who cannot afford insurance. “I cannot find a reason we need to move more disabled into managed care. This was an administrative decision,” she told the audience. Bringing down costs usually means cutting services, Bollier said, adding that people already can wait eight years for service. “That is obscene,” she said. Other states have tried managed care for Medicaid and none have been successful yet, she said.

The budgets coming from the House and Senate both have cuts for higher education while K-12 education funding is held flat. Sen. Wolf said she planned to vote against the budget because of the cuts it contains. “Everyone knows it was a bad tax plan (passed last year),” Wolf said, that has lowered revenue for the state. “The tax plan passed last year is not sustainable,” Rooker added.