Topeka — Advocates for seniors in Kansas say that several changes made to streamline the Medicaid application and renewal process have actually made it difficult for the state’s elderly population.
Kansas moved to a new computer system in 2015 for applying for Kansas Medicaid, otherwise known as KanCare. The state then funneled applications and annual reviews previously handled in regional offices into a single “KanCare Clearinghouse” in Topeka, the Kansas City Star reported.
Since then, the number of seniors covered by KanCare for in-home nursing help has decreased, as well as the number being covered for nursing home beds.
“Some seniors are really having a tough time getting onto Medicaid,” said Dan Goodman, director of the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging. “They get frustrated, are in poor or declining health, become defeated by the process and give up.”
State spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said there are other factors behind the decrease in seniors on Medicaid, including an increase in those being served by another government program that gives alternatives to nursing homes.
But de Rocha said the state agreed that “the shortcomings of the Clearinghouse account for a significant portion” of the decrease.
“These populations have a more difficult time navigating the eligibility process,” she said.
Nursing home administrators have repeatedly complained that the computer system roll-out is hurting them financially and that delays have caused some homes to limit the number of people with pending Medicaid applications they’ll take.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment have said it’s working to fix the problem. This year, the department is assigning a specific case worker to each nursing facility to allow nursing home billing departments to have a single point of contact who knows their cases. De Rocha said the agency is considering moving to that system for individual Kansas seniors as well.