Kansas awards new KanCare contracts to 3 insurance companies

photo by: Kansas Department of Health and Environment

KanCare logo

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Friday that it has awarded new contracts to three private insurance companies to manage KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Two of the new contracts are renewals for companies currently in the program, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc. and United Healthcare Midwest Inc. The third contract went to a new company for KanCare, Aetna Better Health of Kansas Inc.

Those companies were selected from among six proposals that were submitted. Amerigroup, which is one of the three current contractors, was not selected for renewal.

Under KanCare, the insurance companies operate as “managed care organizations,” or MCOs. They are paid a flat, per-person rate for managing the care of Medicaid recipients, including coordinating their care between primary health care providers and specialists, and reimbursing the providers for their services.

KanCare provides health coverage to roughly 400,000 low-income families, seniors and disabled individuals.

KanCare was launched in 2013 during then-Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration, but the chief architect of it was current Gov. Jeff Colyer, who was then Brownback’s lieutenant governor.

It has come under intense criticism at times from consumers, health care advocates and even the federal government, which, in January 2017, refused to renew a waiver authorizing the program after its review of the program, citing what federal officials called “significant compliance deficiencies.”

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, did eventually extend the waiver after a series of negotiations with state officials over a corrective action plan to address the problems.

“We took into consideration the concerns we received from KanCare consumers, advocacy groups, legislators and other stakeholders,” KDHE Secretary Jeff Andersen said in a statement Friday. “We strive to provide Kansans with a cost effective and dependable Medicaid program that serves their needs, and the new contracts will further that objective.”

KDHE said the new contracts would involve greater oversight and accountability, improved response to consumer needs, enhanced care coordination and other “value-added” benefits. Adult dental services also will continue.

The new contracts take effect Jan. 1, 2019. KDHE said Amerigroup would continue to serve as an MCO through the end of this year. People currently enrolled with Amerigroup will be able to select a new MCO during the open enrollment period that begins in October.

Consumers who have questions about the changes can call 785-766-9012.


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