A new Kansas Health Institute study is providing the framework for discussion on Medicaid expansion.

Wednesday was the first day in a series of talks planned by Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Republican from Wichita and chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee. Landwehr asked Kari Bruffett, lead author of the KHI report, to kick off discussion with a review of her findings, which were released Tuesday.

“I just felt that was kind of important because it was some new fresh data that we had out there,” Landwehr said. “And as we know, with any type of data, we can start getting into the details, and looking at what we agree with, what we don’t agree with, what we think maybe something else should have been looked at. But we have to start with assumptions somewhere along the line.”

Currently, about 420,000 seniors, disabled adults and low-income families are covered under Medicaid in Kansas. KHI estimates an additional 130,000 Kansans, including 90,000 adults and 40,000 children, would gain coverage with expansion.

Bruffett said KHI was talking to proponents and opponents, and providing information for the policy discussion.

“I think, hopefully, for the most part, we think folks have found it useful, and it’s a way to help stimulate conversation and have discussion around potential enrollment costs,” Bruffett said. “We know folks may make different assumptions, and so one of the things we’ll hear about is why did we include children in that estimate, for example.”

Within the first year of expansion, KHI proposes the estimated cost to amount to $47.4 million.

Rep. Doug Blex, R-Independence, asked Bruffett how confident she is in the estimated numbers of enrollees in Kansas. The organization previously predicted 150,000 would gain coverage, and Blex said other states saw higher-than-expected participation that drove up costs.

Bruffett said KHI tested its methodology in other states where expansion was implemented to calibrate its projections of how many eligible adults would sign up.

“We certainly acknowledge that the experience and things might change,” Bruffett said. “The way the state might implement a policy or expansion could certainly change what the enrollment pattern would look like.”