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Archive for Monday, September 19, 2011

House-Senate Health Policy Oversight Committee to start vetting Brownback decisions

September 19, 2011

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Committee meets

The House-Senate Health Policy Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. today in Room 548-South in the Capitol.

— A host of controversial decisions that have been made recently by Gov. Sam Brownback will be aired before legislators today.

“We need information and we need rationale for some of the decisions that have been made,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, who is a member of the House-Senate Health Policy Oversight Committee.

The committee is scheduled to hear testimony from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer on why Brownback returned to the federal government a $31.5 million grant that he earlier supported.

Brownback has said there were too many strings attached to the grant that would have helped Kansas implement a health insurance exchange in compliance with the federal health reform law, called the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, and vice chairwoman of the committee, said she agreed with Brownback’s decision. Landwehr said implementation of the exchange “was a moving target.” She added, “Why should we put pressure on ourselves for a piece of legislation that we don’t believe in in the first place?”

Landwehr has led the charge at the state level to oppose the Affordable Care Act. Brownback, a Republican, voted against it when he was in the U.S. Senate and has said it should be repealed. The state of Kansas is a party to a legal challenge to the law.

But Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, also a Republican, has disputed Brownback’s too-many-strings complaint, saying that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had been extremely accommodating to states that had received the “early innovator” grants to work on the exchanges.

Praeger is scheduled to brief the committee on the status of the health insurance exchange, which under the ACA would serve as a one-stop shop for hundreds of thousands of Kansans to purchase insurance and determine eligibility for coverage subsidies.

Since Brownback returned the $31.5 million grant, the administration said work on the exchange will not go forward, but Praeger has said planning continues in her agency because, under the law, the exchanges have to be in place by 2014.

On another front, Brownback is catching heat from some in his own party for signing a contract worth $135 million to overhaul the state Medicaid computer system. Brownback officials said the contract will make it easier to catch Medicaid fraud and determine eligibility for the program that serves more than 300,000 Kansans.

But critics, such as Rep. Charlotte O’Hara, R-Overland Park, said the mostly federally funded contract was just another step toward implementing the ACA. The Brownback administration has denied this charge, but state insurance officials say part of the work under the contract will be making the system compatible with the ACA. In addition, shortly after Kansas announced the contract with Accenture, the technology services company settled a $63.7 million lawsuit with the federal government. The company was accused of fraud, bid-rigging and taking kickbacks. Accenture denied the allegations but said it was settling to avoid more costly litigation.

Colyer is also scheduled to give an update on his effort to reform Medicaid, the $2.8 billion federal-state funded program. Brownback has said the state must find ways to deliver Medicaid services at reduced cuts. Critics fear that Brownback’s plan will result in more needy Kansans not getting assistance.

The committee also is expected to hear from Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. on the effect of SRS office closings on caseloads and Medicaid application processing times.

When announcing on July 1 the closing of nine SRS offices, Siedlecki said those served by the offices could travel to nearby cities or access services online.

The closure announcement caused a public uproar, and local officials in several of the affected cities, including Lawrence, came up with local tax funds to keep the offices open for at least two years.

Comments

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 3 months ago

"On another front, Brownback is catching heat from some in his own party for signing a contract worth $135 million to overhaul the state Medicaid computer system. Brownback officials said the contract will make it easier to catch Medicaid fraud and determine eligibility for the program that serves more than 300,000 Kansans."

Does anybody else think that spending $450,000/person to catch "Medicaid fraud" isn't just a wee bit of bloat? Heck, letting a few fraudsters get away with it would be cheaper! That kind of cash could be used to actually loosen regs and make it easier for people who actually need the services to get them! Wow, Republicans. Just...wow.

63BC 3 years, 3 months ago

$135,000,000 divided by 300,000 Medicaid beneficiaries is $450, not $450,000. Check math before posting.

Also, that's over five years. So put another way, $90 a year per beneficiary to check for Medicaid fraud. All sides stipulate fraud in Medicaid is greater than fifteen percent of program. New technology is best way to root it out. System will more than pay for itself.

mloburgio 3 years, 3 months ago

Hope they ask brownie who was supposed to apply for this huge grant.

Kansas not pursuing federal prevention dollars

Major federal initiative will bypass Kansas because no one applied for grant The federal government is poised to start spending $900 million nationwide over the next five years in an effort to battle costly chronic ailments such as obesity and diabetes.

The initiative is considered the single largest push to date by the national government to encourage disease prevention. But Kansas likely won’t see a dollar of that money.

Why not? Well, one big reason is that no one here asked.

The July 15 deadline for submitting applications for the so-called Community Transformation Grants has come and gone. http://www.khi.org/news/2011/aug/08/kansas-not-pursuing-federal-prevention-dollars/

eakers 3 years, 3 months ago

This proposal was already written and pretty much ready to be submitted when Secretary Moser decided the requirement were too great to even bother submitting the grant. Six weeks of work went into it. Only two groups in Kansas could actually even submit the grant because of population size requirements, Johnson County and the State of Kansas (KDHE). So political ideology reigns over improving Kansans' health.

Aimee Polson 3 years, 3 months ago

While I agree with your sentiment, I believe that it comes out to $450/person.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, you're right. My calculator went seriously nuts.

weeslicket 3 years, 3 months ago

on a technicality, however, you still made a correct statement: that amount did seem to be a bit bloated!!

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

I get it that they don't like the Affordable Care Act, but it is the law. Isn't there some problem with being an elected official and trying to undermine the laws you are sworn to uphold?

tomatogrower 3 years, 3 months ago

The real problem is who is getting the contract for the work. Not a Kansas company. There are companies in Kansas who could have done the work, and probably cheaper. Create jobs in Kansas first!

Bob Forer 3 years, 3 months ago

Didn't Brownie promise to create jobs during the campaign. What??? Are you suggesting the our dear leader made false promises. I am astonished, simply astonished.

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

What I want to know---is swearing to uphold the laws of the land and then trying to subvert them illegal? Is this an actionable offense? It seems like by definition it would be.

yellowjayhawk2 3 years, 3 months ago

For the record, this "report" that you speak of was an editorial opinion written by Steve Chapman. My journalistic schooling taught me that one writer's opinion does not speak for the entire newspaper. For that, you must turn to the (usually weely) Op-Ed piece.

So, it would be more accurate for your statement to read "Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune recommended that Obama not run for re-election..." instead of the way you wrote it.

But nice try.

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

Interesting, but how does this answer my question?

deec 3 years, 3 months ago

This syndicate thinks they are above the law: "I have submitted a request to the Federal EEOC office to investigate the unfair employment practices of Secretary Brownlee and Governor Brownback. Anyone that possesses information or has experienced unfair interference in employment opportunities with the State of Kansas please post your information on the site or contact me directly. " http://www.kdol.net/news/discussion/67/request-for-a-federal-eeoc-investigation-of-governor-brownback-and-secretary-brownlee

deec 3 years, 3 months ago

It wasn't me; I just posted it. :)

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

Oh, I see---but your link is busted.

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

"Brownback officials said the contract will make it easier to catch Medicaid fraud and determine eligibility for the program that serves more than 300,000 Kansans."

I may be misreading, but it appears that they are blaming the individual using Medicare for the fraud by not actually being eligible. From my research is looks like most of the fraud is perpetuated by providers/organizations falsely billing Medicare and that this goes on large scale costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars a year. In fact, in a cursory search for "medicare fraud" I don't see a single case of individual patient fraud. One would imagine that it does go on, but it seems that "eligibility" is not where the main problem lies, but with greedy providers and suppliers.

Although history tells me to be suspicious of anything Gov Brownback does, it looks like the money spent to overhaul the computer system might be well spent---if it actually does what it's supposed to do, rather than being used solely to deny eligibility.

thebigspoon 3 years, 3 months ago

Even so, verity, the issue that stands too tall to miss is the $135,000,000 being spent out of state to eliminate fraud. Now, that is a complete waste of dollars. It can NOT take a $1.35 million system to vet the 300,000 medicaid claims the state produces. Computer systems that cost far less handle as much information as will be input into this one and do a fine job. And was there a competitive bid process put in place to award this contract? If not, why not? If so, let's demand that we see the bids. If no Kansas company bid, then so be it. But I'd be significantly knocked off my rocker if the competitive bid system even came into play. I want to be wrong about that, but I have little doubt that cronyism and the "good ole boy network" had more to do with placing this bid than any lawful event.

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

Point taken. You're right on every count.

pace 3 years, 3 months ago

Lets keep track of Brownback's legislative "friends" they need to be recalled or at least not reelected. Of course Kochees don't stand for election, they are just calling the shots. A most unprofessional and callous remark , "Siedlecki said those served by the offices could travel to nearby cities or access services online." makes me sick every time I read it.

weeslicket 3 years, 3 months ago

this is a "wait and watch". sure to be fascinating.

(may you live in interesting times)

roadwarrior 3 years, 3 months ago

"But Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, also a Republican, has disputed Brownback’s too-many-strings complaint,"

YAY Sandy.......Keep up the good fight ! Serving her state and not quitting. I think an appreciative email is required.

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