Archive for Saturday, December 29, 2012

Managed-care organizations staff up in preparation for KanCare

December 29, 2012


Three managed care organizations have increased their presence in Kansas with staff and facilities as they prepare to implement the KanCare system of Medicaid services.

The hiring of several hundred employees — and more likely in the coming years — is an unexpected bonus for Gov. Sam Brownback. New hires mean more revenue and economic activity in Kansas as the state aims to save nearly $1 billion over five years by curbing the growth in its share of health care costs.

“I didn’t anticipate that, but I’m glad to hear it,” Brownback said of the job creation. “I’m excited about what they’ve put forward. The idea that we’re able to add preventive dental care and hold costs down over five years, I’m really excited about that.”

The 395,000 KanCare participants will be assigned to one of the three managed care organizations — Amerigroup Corp., based in Virginia Beach, Va.; Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Centene Corp.; or United Healthcare, headquartered in Minneapolis.

The goal of the program, approved by the federal government in early December, is to provide poor and disabled Kansans with a broad array of services that take a proactive approach toward health care.

Kansas needed federal approval to move to the managed care model and gain flexibility in how health care is administered under national Medicaid guidelines. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed the state late Thursday that it approved the special terms and conditions of the waiver that were being worked out.

Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a plastic surgeon, believe the new system can be more efficient and lower the state’s costs without increasing eligibility requirements for recipients, such as income levels, cutting services or reducing provider reimbursement rates.

“Serving the needs of the whole person as well as ensuring long term fiscal sustainability for the state are the principles this plan is built upon,” Colyer said.

UnitedHealth Group has plans to create more than 320 jobs to administer KanCare, spread statewide. That brings the company’s total to more than 2,300 workers, plus more than 1,700 contractors.

Matt Stearns, spokesman for UnitedHealth, said the company was also making a three-year, $1.5 million investment in an employment program called Empowering Kansans. By partnering with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the program will bring various state and local researchers together to help KanCare recipients find meaningful employment.

“The program is designed to address both the need for employment among persons with disabilities in Kansas as well as employer needs to grow their businesses and the Kansas economy,” Stearns said.

Amerigroup has hired more than 250 employees with a goal of 274 in the state. The company has a new office in Overland Park, which includes a customer contact center.

“As we grow in Kansas, we expect to expand our workforce,” said Laura Hopkins, Amerigroup Kansas chief executive officer.

The Sunflower State Health Plan is headquartered in Lenexa, but has staff located statewide. The company plans to hire more than 230 employees initially to manage their contract, but a spokeswoman said the number could increase after Jan. 1.

“Our approach to business is based on the core belief that quality health care is best delivered locally,” said spokeswoman Monica Stoneking.

Kansas officials have put in place safeguards to ease the transition to the new system, including allowing recipients to keep their current physician for 90 days, even if the doctors are not in provider networks. In some areas, the MCOs haven’t been able to get enough specialty physicians to join the networks initially.

Similar provisions cover care received at out-of-network nursing homes, hospitals and community-based services designed to keep residents in their homes.

Most Kansans who receive state medical assistance are covered by managed care through private contractors, but the Medicaid overhaul represents the first time the state has tried to include relatively expensive, long-term care for the disabled and the elderly, including those in nursing homes.

The three companies offer competing plans, giving KanCare participants choices of services, such as preventive dental care for adults. Participants have until April to switch plans and the contracts offer incentives to the companies to pay claims quickly and improve overall health of program participants.


Phillbert 3 years, 1 month ago

Republican logic: A job created by the government is bad, but a job created by a government contract is good.

And how exactly is the state going to save money by having more people working in the health care bureaucracy AND giving these companies a profit AND not cutting services for poor families and kids? Will anyone be surprised if the services are the first to go and profits the last?

Lenette Hamm 3 years, 1 month ago

Good points, Phillbert. The "light" at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train...driven by our esteemed Gov.

headdoctor 3 years, 1 month ago

Call this what it is. Corporate welfare compliments of Sam Brownback and the Kansas taxpayers. There is no way that these companies can expand their work force by those numbers and begin to make this program any cheaper or efficient for the state.

deec 3 years, 1 month ago

The LJW had an article on December 11 discussing how nonprofit agency employees are leaving to work for the private companies at higher wages. This is causing a decrease in service quality to clients already.

"They said they didn’t blame their workers for taking the jobs because the employees told them they would get substantially higher pay at the managed care companies.

But the agency leaders said they weren’t sure how KanCare could save the state money, if the contractors will have significantly higher personnel costs."

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm disgusted that Brownback thinks that lots of new jobs were created. And that revenues will increase as a result. And the Tooth Fairy will finally put a dime under his pillow.

What happened is that, effective the 1st, agencies like Independence, Inc. and communityworks, inc. will no longer provide case management services, so their case managers who were all going to lose their jobs merely got hired on to work for KanCare...the program that made their existing jobs disappear.

How is moving jobs from one employer to another creating additional jobs???

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years, 1 month ago

Actually a performanced based (Private sector) health care agency is more than welcomed. Hopefully it will be free of welfare to work driven intelligence we are blessed with when the government has anything to do with administration.

Hopefully, it will have the latitude to get rid of the leeches and dingleberries that are driving health care costs up. With any luck, the chairs in the waiting room wont have to have a rating of 400lbs.

The have nots are doing everything they can to take from those of us who produce. Our State leadership knows this.

headdoctor 3 years, 1 month ago

So, when are you going to get bent out of shape as a producer over the wealthy expecting you to pay their share? Many of them are taking from the system and paying very little if any taxes into it. Many of them only produce more money for their selves and yes those are the wealthy that are part of the 47% that are included in your idea of the have nots. But, you already knew that. You are purposely being obtuse and are not about to let facts get in the road of a perfectly good rant.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"Hopefully, it will have the latitude to get rid of the leeches and dingleberries that are driving health care costs up."

You mean the CEO's and other executives of these corporations who make many times more than their counterparts in the public sector, while running much more inefficient operations, right?

weeslicket 3 years, 1 month ago

from can't: Hopefully, it will have the latitude to get rid of the leeches and dingleberries that are driving health care costs up. With any luck, the chairs in the waiting room wont have to have a rating of 400lbs.

from a related aritcle in the paper: Currently, Medicaid in Kansas provides health care coverage to about 380,000 people, with the largest portion of them — about 230,000 — being children. The rest are mostly lower-income, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly. The $2.8 billion program is funded with federal and state dollars. Medicaid in Kansas doesn’t cover low-income adults who don’t have children. And a nondisabled adult with children is eligible only if his or her income is below 32 percent of the poverty level, which is approximately $5,000 per year. That is about the most difficult eligibility level in the country.

Kyle Chandler 3 years, 1 month ago

I still find it quite hilarious that posters like weeslicket above think that all welfare recipients are just lazy perfectly capable people from middle class homes that choose to 'leech' or become 'dingleberries' LOL. Spend some time down on Skid Row wee, you might learn a thing or two about 'reality' in the real world instead of Rupert Murdochs Reality Distortion Field.

Id also bet that wee believes that Tax dollars fund abortions at planned parenthoods! Hilarious!

Katara 3 years, 1 month ago

weeslicket was not the one who said that. He/she was quoting what Cant_have_it_both_ways posted. Perhaps you should direct your ire to the correct person.

weeslicket 3 years, 1 month ago

thank you katara.

@kylechandler: the name is weeslicket. please call me by my name.

Michael Throop 3 years, 1 month ago

Please document, specifically by date and publication/outlet, where a News Corp entity has maligned those on welfare.

Michael Throop 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh........, Media Matters is your source? Find a source other than George Soros' trained chimps..

Armstrong 3 years, 1 month ago

What's more interesting is watching the liberals heads spin over this.

tabitha013 3 years, 1 month ago

"The hiring of several hundred employees — and more likely in the coming years — is an unexpected bonus for Gov. Sam Brownback. New hires mean more revenue and economic activity in Kansas as the state aims to save nearly $1 billion over five years by curbing the growth in its share of health care costs."

This is not true. The fact is that many people, and companies, lost their jobs because of the MCOs and the MCOs just hired most of the people that lost their original job. They didn't hire all of the old case managers, so a lot of them will be filing for unemployment starting tomorrow. How is that an unexpected bonus? And even if Mediciad expands, that doesn't mean that the MCOs will hire more workers as they only help people with HCBS services, which does not include everyone on Medicaid.

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