Archive for Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Inspector general for Medicaid appointed

August 21, 2007

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— When legislators earlier this year came up with a package of health care reforms, it included the creation of an inspector general to root out Medicaid waste and fraud.

On Monday, the Kansas Health Policy Authority Board announced it had hired Robin J. Kempf as inspector general to audit, investigate and conduct performance reviews for the Medicaid program, MediKan and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"The health policy authority takes very seriously its role as good stewards of state resources. With Robin's experience and knowledge, she will make an excellent asset to our team as we work to improve health and health care in Kansas," said Marci Nielson, the authority's executive director.

Kempf's position must be confirmed by the Senate after the Legislature convenes in January. She has been associate general counsel for the Kansas Board of Regents since 2005, a role she also played from 2001 to 2003. Before her work with the board, she was a university professor in China and an auditor for the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit.

The authority was set up in 2005 to review health care issues and oversees all health insurance purchasing plans for the state, including Medicaid, MediKan and children's insurance. It also is drafting health reform options for the Legislature next year.

Medicaid, which provides insurance for people with low incomes, averages about 250,000 people a month. There are about 4,000 people enrolled in MediKan, which covers adults with disabilities who don't qualify for Medicaid but are eligible for services under the state general assistance program. It also provides limited medical benefits for those whose applications for federal disability are being reviewed.

The children's insurance program provides health coverage for youngsters who don't qualify for Medicaid and has about 35,000 participants. Medicaid covers children under 18 in homes where family income is up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level - $20,650 for a family of four. The insurance program covers up to 200 percent of the poverty level.

Creation of the inspector general position was one part of the health care reform bill signed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in May. It fell short of her call for a plan to eventually bring universal health coverage to Kansas, but she said it sets the stage for more talks about creating a system to help an estimated 300,000 uninsured Kansans.

The law also expands health screening for newborns and creates a program under which, starting in 2009, the state would give poor Kansans about $3,200 a year for health insurance.

It also allows Kansans to set aside pretax income to cover health expenses and allows the state to make no-interest loans to help small businesses form associations to purchase health insurance for employees.

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