Archive for Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Medicaid changes increase access to services

October 3, 2006


— State health officials Monday announced changes in the Kansas Medicaid program that they said would increase access to mental health services and resolve a dispute with the federal government.

"This Kansas-developed solution is good for citizens in need of these critical services," said Gary Daniels, secretary of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Medicaid is the state-federal funded program that provides health care for the poor and disabled.

The state has been locked in a battle with the federal government over allegations the state has misspent millions of dollars in Medicaid funding.

So far, Kansas has lost $32.4 million in Medicaid funding over the dispute related to expenses for school-based health programs.

But federal authorities also had concerns about Kansas' mental health service system.

For almost 20 years, Kansas restricted its Medicaid payments for mental health services to the state's community mental health centers such as Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in Lawrence.

But under Medicaid regulations, the program must include "any willing provider" - private practitioners, for example.

On Monday, state officials said Kansas received approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on a waiver application to the Medicaid plan.

The changes will allow Kansas to designate primary contractors for public mental health and substance abuse services, and coordinate all care through those contractors while building the provider network.

With this waiver approval, concerns by CMS about "any willing provider" will be resolved, officials said.

Kyle Kessler, a spokesman for SRS, said this waiver allowed the state to still use the community mental health centers, while also increasing consumer choices.

He said people receiving services should see no changes in services.

Marcia Nielsen, executive director of Kansas Health Policy Authority, said the waiver would "ensure that Kansas will be back in compliance with the federal government."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.