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Archive for Saturday, December 29, 2012

Managed-care organizations staff up in preparation for KanCare

December 29, 2012

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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.

Comments

tabitha013 1 year, 3 months 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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Paul R Getto 1 year, 3 months ago

“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.

Sounds like the goal of the ACA. Interesting irony, no?

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Kyle Chandler 1 year, 3 months 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!

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autie 1 year, 3 months ago

Preventive dental care? Sure. Good luck with that and better luck finding a dentist who will take those patients...what a friggin joke. Is that supposed to make them feel warm and fuzzy inside? And the jobs? I think one will find a great many of those are job shifting, not new job creation. Plus..is it all that good of an idea to send those dollars out of state to some for profit corporation when they should be rolled in Kansas? The real downside is when this boondoogle falls on its face a lot of people will suffer.

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weeslicket 1 year, 3 months 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.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 3 months 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.

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Phillbert 1 year, 3 months 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?

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