The President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association acknowledges that there is a tension between patients and health care providers when it comes to uncompensated care, but he says medical debt is different.

“The difference, I think, in many cases, with medical debt from another debt, is that, oftentimes the people who owe money for medical services, got those services as a result of an injury or an emergency,” said Tom Bell with the Kansas Hospital Association. “They did not go to the store seeking out those services.”

Bell believes a policy decision before the Kansas legislature can help with the problem.

“For folks below the federal poverty level, about 20 percent of them are actually uninsured,” said Bell. “One of the things that the state could do right now to help alleviate this problem, is to take advantage of Medicaid expansion.”

Bell makes it clear that Medicaid expansion won’t solve all of the state’s health care delivery problems, but he thinks its a step in the right direction.

“Our studies have shown that, the smaller the hospital, the bigger the impact that Medicaid expansion would have on alleviating some of this uncompensated care,” said Bell.

Bell is in search of a good equilibrium between those who needed care and got it but are unable to pay and the health care providers who need to be able to pay those who provide that care on a daily basis.