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Some Healthcare Providers May Lose Under Kansas City's Proposed Budget

Mike Sherry
KCUR 89.3

The proposed budget for Kansas City, Missouri, keeps overall funding for safety net health care providers steady at $31.9 million, but the majority of those programs would see budget cuts. 

Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center is facing the biggest cut. The city has proposed cutting their funding by just over half a million dollars for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The proposed reallocation of money from the city’s health levy would also reduce funding for Kansas City Health Clinic, Northland Health Care and Swope Parkway Health, which faces the second biggest cut of nearly $30,000.

Truman Medical Center has steadily retained 82.5 percent of the budget for the past few years. Swope Ridge Geriatric would see an increase of $80,000.

The city bases its budget recommendations for health care providers on data such as patient visits.

But Kansas City, Missouri, attorney Phil Zeeck says that formula doesn't work for Samuel Rodgers, which serves around 25,000 patients throughout the Kansas City area. According to Zeeck, who also serves on the Mayor's Health Commission, Rodgers Health's expenses have been two to three times higher than the other providers.

"[The Samuel Rodgers Health Center's] expenses are unique because they make unique efforts to sign their patients up for health insurance," Zeeck says. "In this moment in our nation's life, and our state's life, that is truly God's work. They shouldn't be punished for doing that work."

In a recent public hearing about the proposed budget, Samuel Rodgers Health CEO Bob Theis and other staff members called on the Kansas City Council to take another look at their budget, and consider a step-down approach. 

"Quite honestly, I hadn't thought of a staggered approach," councilwoman Heather Hall said. "I think that's something we're going to need to revisit."

The city council must approve the budget by March 22.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @_tudhope, and email her at andreat@kcur.org.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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