Kansas could be at disadvantage for attracting talented doctors unless it passes Medicaid expansion, according to KHA executive

Wyandotte County reported an additional 19 cases from Sunday to Monday afternoon, for a total cumulative 4,915 cases, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage. The number of deaths was the same, at 99 total. (From UG COVID-19 website)

Tom Bell, president of the Kansas Hospital Association, said Kansas may not be able to attract as many talented doctors if it doesn’t pass Medicaid expansion.

Bell made his remarks at a virtual news conference Monday morning through the University of Kansas Health System.

He noted that Missouri recently passed Medicaid expansion, leaving Kansas as an island surrounded by states that have passed the expanded insurance program for lower-income residents.

That means health care facilities and doctors in the other states may have better incomes because more patients can now pay for their health care, resulting in some prospective doctors choosing to go to another state where pay is better.

Herb Kuhn, president of the Missouri Hospital Association, said there are now 230,000 Missourians who will have medical coverage because of Medicaid expansion.

Bell said that people will be better served with Medicaid expansion.

“All the data shows that if you have insurance, you are healthier,” Bell said. ”That’s the bottom line.”

What Missouri has done is helped the people in their states and helped the hospitals, as well, he said.

“I hope that Missouri being the final contiguous state to adopt expansion will spur us on in the future,” Bell said.

Hospitals have received a triple whammy during COVID-19, he said.

Bell said they prepared and cared for COVID-19 patients; they experienced a 40 to 50 percent hit in volumes and revenue; and they are seeing a toll on mental and physical health now.

About 50 percent of hospitals are expected to have negative margins of minus 1 to minus 11 percent, he said. The CARES Act funding was extremely important and allowed hospitals to move along during the second quarter, Bell added.

Two hospitals in Kansas have closed, he said. They include one in Wellington and also, St. Luke’s Cushing Hospital in Leavenworth. Both closures had at least some relation to the COVID-19 situation, he added.

“We have seen in our state a bit of leveling off. We’ve seen a reduction in the number of hospitalizations per infection,” he said.

Doctors have done a good job in taking care of people, and there has been a reduction in deaths, a testament to health care providers, he added.

Telehealth has been a good result from COVID-19, and it may have advanced by a decade, according to Bell. Another benefit has been the recognition of the importance of public health, and that public health departments have been underfunded in the past. Also, there is now a recognition of a need to produce supplies such as personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals in our country to be better prepared in the future, Bell said.

Kuhn also mentioned addressing disparities in the health care system, and a renewed interest of people who want to pursue a career in health care now.

Doctors were concerned about an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Health System.

Monday was the 100th news conference program offered about COVID-19 by the KU Health System.

The KU Health System reported 31 COVID-19 patients being treated at the hospital on Monday morning, up from 23 on Sunday, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection control and prevention at KU Health System. Ten of the patients were in the intensive care unit, and eight of those patients were on ventilators, according to Dr. Hawkinson. There was one fewer patient in the ICU than on Friday and the same number on ventilators as Friday.

Wyandotte County reported an additional 19 cases from Sunday to Monday afternoon, for a total cumulative 4,915 cases, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage. The number of deaths was the same, at 99 total.

Free testing offered

Free COVID-19 testing is planned from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at All Saints parish, 811 Vermont Ave., Kansas City, Kansas.

The pop-up test is offered through Vibrant Health and the Health Equity Task Force.

Free testing also is offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Unified Government Health Department parking lot at 6th and Ann, Kansas City, Kansas. For more information, call 311.

The KU doctors’ news conference is online at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/870315336826271.

For more information on who may be tested and what to bring, visit https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19.

The Wyandotte County school start order is online at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.

Wyandotte County is under a mandatory mask order and is in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. For more information, residents may visit the UG COVID-19 website at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information or call 311 for more information.

The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.