KanCare gets mixed reviews from patients, health care providers

? Patients, health care providers and others on Tuesday provided a mixed picture of the status of Gov. Sam Brownback’s privatization of Medicaid called KanCare.

Robert Adams, who uses an electric wheelchair to get around after suffering severe injuries in a motorcycle accident, said KanCare has been great for him. “I have not had one iota of a problem,” he told the Legislature’s KanCare Oversight Committee.

But Patricia Wilson, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and numerous other ailments, told of being on a waiting list for services, then being denied services and then finding out her records were lost when she tried to appeal.

“In October 2013, things were really bad. I would pass out and lie in my own blood and vomit,” she said. She said her daughter had to quit her job to provide round-the-clock care.

Her experience was similar to that reported by others who said they had become lost in the system.

KanCare was launched by Brownback on Jan. 1, 2013. It put more than 350,000 Kansans, who received health care through Medicaid, into health plans run by three private insurers, Amerigroup, UnitedHealthcare and Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene.

Brownback said the new program would cuts costs while providing better care.

On Tuesday, several providers expressed frustration with dealing with the KanCare’s managed care organizations, while others said the new system was working fine.

Bob Finuf, vice president of payer relations with Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, was one of those unhappy with KanCare.

“We simply did not encounter the number or magnitude of operational and claim payment delays, and or denials that we have encountered since the implementation of KanCare,” he said.

Mike Egan, owner of Hillside Village, a nursing home in De Soto, said it has cost him thousands of dollars to correct billing errors under KanCare.

And Danica Case, controller of Newman Regional Health, a county-owned hospital in Emporia, said the slow payment of claims and wrongful denial of claims were costing taxpayers money.

But Jamie Price, the chief operating officer for Community Living Opportunities, which serves adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said her group had experienced “very positive outcomes” in KanCare.

The meeting came as the Kansas Health Institute reported that the KanCare contractors lost more than $110 million in their first year of the program.

But Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Robert Moser said he didn’t think the losses were cause for alarm because, he said, it was expected that the companies’ first-year expenses would be higher than in subsequent years.