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Archive for Friday, December 7, 2012

Feds approve KanCare; program to launch on Jan. 1

December 7, 2012

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— Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday said that federal officials have given Kansas the go-ahead to implement the state's new Medicaid system known as KanCare on Jan. 1.

Under KanCare, nearly 400,000 Kansans will have their health care administered by for-profit managed care companies.

Brownback vowed that the new system will provide better health care more efficiently and reduce costs to taxpayers. Medicaid, funded through federal and state dollars, costs about $2.9 billion annually in Kansas.

"Instead of cutting services, cutting providers, we're adding. This is the way forward. You are going to see a lot of states doing this," he said.

But the proposal, which has been in the works for nearly two years, has its detractors.

Ernie Kutzley, advocacy director for AARP-Kansas, said he feared KanCare "could really harm the quality of care for seniors."

AARP and several organizations had asked for delays in implementation, saying that Brownback's timeline was too aggressive.

Kutzley also said given the state's precarious fiscal situation — tax cuts signed into law this year by Brownback will produce a $328 million budget shortfall next year — this wasn't the time to overhaul Medicaid.

"We really didn't think the state had the manpower and process in place to oversee this thing," he said.

"I'm disappointed," said Tom Laing, executive director of InterHab, a group of organizations that provides services to people with disabilities.

"The question will be how much oversight will the Legislature and the feds exercise to make sure that people covered by Medicaid are not harmed by this process," Laing said.

Shannon Cotsoradis, president and chief executive officer of Kansas Action for Children, agreed. "The federal government has determined today that Kansas is ready to move forward with KanCare, but what is less clear is whether children and families are ready for this transition.

"As KanCare unfolds, it will be important to monitor the impact it has on children’s access to health care coverage," Cotsoradis said.

But Brownback and his health care leaders said approval of KanCare by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides certainty for the low-income children, disabled and elderly Kansans served by Medicaid.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer vowed "a smooth transition for Kansans on Medicaid."

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Shawn Sullivan said "continuity of care" provisions have been incorporated into the contracts with the managed care organizations to provide three more months after Jan. 1 for health care providers to get into the plan. The state will also have a KanCare ombudsman and consumer telephone hotlines.

The state awarded KanCare contracts in June to subsidiaries of Amerigroup Corp., based in Virginia Beach, Va.; Centene Corp., which has its headquarters in St. Louis; and United Healthcare, based in Minneapolis.

Each Medicaid consumer has been pre-enrolled in one of the plans and members have the opportunity before April 4 to switch to a different plan, officials said. KanCare continues current health care services, and adds heart and lung transplants, bariatric surgery and adult preventative dental services.

Advocates for people with developmental disabilities opposed KanCare and Brownback agreed to wait until 2014 to bring in their long-term services.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser, a family physician, said KanCare will save $1 billion over five years. Moser said the new model will provide a holistic approach to caring for patients. "Basically, this is great news," he said.

Comments

Jean Robart 2 years ago

This seems to have been a "come Hell or high water" proposition.We are getting it shoved down our throats, and nobody listens to what we have to say! I sent the Lt Governor an e-mail several weeks ago---no answer. What did i really expect? Then looks at the three plans that you have to choose from---and the one you have been assigned to BASED ON YOUR HEALTHCARE USAGE. Not a single doctor of mine is on the list of any of them. Lawrence Memorial Hospital isn't on any of them. Which village idiot had the job of assigning us to a specific plan? Then, when I asked why i should use the group to which i was assigned, the response was,"Gee, I don't know." I called another and couldn't deal with the stupidity of the CSR I talked to. I called the third one---what a breath of fresh air! Ah, then prepare yourself for the outright rudeness of the people at KanCare when you call them to change groups. The rudeness was bad enough, but i was given some information by KanCare that was absolutely wrong according to the information I received from each of the companies. They need to be reorienting their personnel to exactly what is right and what isn't right, and have them take classes in human relations and how to talk to people on the phone about something of this importance.

Katara 2 years ago

The problems you experienced are what you get when you rush things. You'd think Brownback would have learned from the DMV fiasco but apparently he is not one who learns from his mistakes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

This program has two primary goals. The first is to allow private insurance groups to skim tax dollars off the top (in exchange for appropriately directed campaign contributions,) and the second is to reduce the number of beneficiaries and the amount of benefits they receive, which will be necessary to make up for the massive deficits Brownback's tax breaks to the wealthy would otherwise create.

KS 2 years ago

Well, bozo, this is the first time that I think you and I agree.....well sort of. You are right that the insurance companies will take some of the money to run the program. Call it skimming if you want. They, nor the non-profits, will do it for free. Second, you are also right that the number of beneficiaries will be reduced, but I think for good reason. There are too many folks on the program that don't need to be. There were too many bleeding heart liberal social workers with SRS and the ILC's out there were putting any and eveyone on the programs and SRS never would step in to stop it. SRS is finally gone (in this area) and Kan-Care is in. This is a good thing. The party will be over in Kansas. Nobody that legitimatley needs services will be denied. Now there will be money to help the really needy. Let's talk about this again in a year. Then we can decide who is closer to right.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

A couple of points-- Private insurance companies are much less efficient at administering healthcare programs than the government is. That's just a well-documented fact.

And while there may be some who get benefits who shouldn't, it's a small minority, and the benefits that anyone gets are pretty piddling. Keeping deserving people from getting benefits just to cut the costs of the program is mean-spirited at best, especially since the only reason to do it is to funnel money to insurance companies and fund tax breaks for those who don't need them.

deec 2 years ago

Anybody who meets the income eligibility guidelines. Social workers cannot and do not randomly decide to add people who do not meet the program requirements.

63BC 2 years ago

So Kansas faces a real challenge---unsustainable increases in Medicaid spending. Brownback offers a solution. Sebelius negotiates changes and on a bipartisan basis everyone agrees to move forward with the solution.

Response from this board? Attack the Governor! What a tired act that's become.

average 2 years ago

If this was something novel, and not something that nearly a dozen states have already tried to no particular positive benefit, I'd be a lot more willing to call it "offering a solution".

Lori Nation 2 years ago

Feel sorry for those that truly need the plan, they are going to have a hard time finding doctors that are contracted.

Lenette Hamm 2 years ago

And the "ombudsman"? ONE for nearly 400,000 people. Kansas has 11 across the state for about 40,000 people in nursing homes and the like, and that isn't nearly enough. How on earth will this to be of any benefit to those who need care and help the most???

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years ago

I would be very cautions of anyathing that flimflam sam approves of. Those apples have needles and razor blades in them!

chootspa 2 years ago

Well, once they die off, they surely will no longer be dependent on the government to take care of them.

BigDog 2 years ago

He must have been really good then to convince Sebelius and her staff in Washington to approve this.

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