Gov. Jeff Colyer is making trips to mental health facilities in Kansas, taking a tour and asking doctors, nurses and directors what can be done to improve mental health services statewide.

He made one of those stops at Prairie View's Newton campus on June 7.

While there, his time opened with Jesse Kaye, CEO of Prarie View, thanking the governor for what he has done in recent budgets and with recent efforts to help mental health facilities.

"As far as we know .... I believe that (Gov. Colyer) is the only governor to mention mental health in their inaugural speech," Kaye said. "We pay attention to things like that. ... The budget bill (Gov. Colyer) recently signed offers a level of protection to our system and that has been missing in recent history." 

She also encouraged the governor to consider expansion of Medicare in Kansas — something he has been publicly opposed to during his time in office.

“Medicaid expansion would directly benefit us by reducing the amount of uninsured care that we provide,” Kaye said. “It is a little bit challenging to specifically fund that. We know that with expansion … it would reduce the burning of providing services that are mandated for us as a (Community Mental Health Center).

Kaye told the governor Prairie View employs more than 350 people, treats more than 12,000 and provides more than $1 million in uncompensated care to patients each year. 

Thursday after touring Prairie View, Colyer remained opposed to Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid expansion in Kansas is not the solution for us,” Colyer said. “Here is one simple example. If you do Medicaid expansion, and a lot of people are saying it is to help rural hospitals. If we spend $1 billion for Medicaid expansion, and we are only talking about $25 to $30 million that is going to rural hospitals of that. It does not solve our problem. There are some better solutions.”

Colyer also spoke to federal cost sharing for Medicaid, which at one time was a 60/40 split. The federal government paid 60 percent. That is no longer the case. The split is nor more like 53/46 — costing the state $250 million per year in additional funds.

“We do not know what D.C. is going to do,” Colyer said. “… There will be continued changes. …. The notion that this is free money for a very long time has not been the case in the rest of the Medicaid program. We want to work on mental health and I believe there are some targeted ways to do that.”