Archive for Monday, May 7, 2018

In Lawrence, Colyer says he’s not surprised by Medicaid officials’ denial of lifetime KanCare limits

Gov. Jeff Colyer talks with members of the Lawrence chamber of commerce following a luncheon speech Monday at the Arterra Event Gallery.

Gov. Jeff Colyer talks with members of the Lawrence chamber of commerce following a luncheon speech Monday at the Arterra Event Gallery.

May 7, 2018


Gov. Jeff Colyer said Monday that he was not surprised by an announcement from federal Medicaid officials earlier in the day that they would not approve the state's request to impose a three-year lifetime limit on eligibility in the state's privatized Medicaid program known as KanCare.

Colyer's office announced Monday that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, had notified the state's Medicaid director, Jon Hamdorf, of the decision.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma also announced it nationally in a speech to the American Hospital Association in Washington.

The lifetime cap on Medicaid eligibility for working age, nondisabled adults had been part of Colyer's plan to redesign the state's program into what he had been calling KanCare 2.0.

Speaking in Lawrence Monday, Colyer said the state had already been told the request was likely to be rejected, and so the request was withdrawn about two weeks ago.

"On the lifetime caps, there’s a question of whether or not they could do it," he told the Journal-World following a speech to the Lawrence chamber of commerce. "So we were one of several states that applied early on. They came back to us a couple of weeks ago and said no, they cannot do that under federal law."

Colyer was the chief architect of the KanCare system, which took effect in 2013 while he was serving as lieutenant governor under former Gov. Sam Brownback. Under the program, the health benefits of some 400,000 Medicaid enrollees in Kansas are managed by three for-profit insurance companies, known as managed-care organizations.

Those contracts are set to expire at the end of this year, and the administration had planned to solicit new requests for proposals in order to launch KanCare 2.0 in January.

But Kansas lawmakers put a hold on that in the budget bill they just adopted last week by inserting language saying the administration could continue negotiating with CMS over other eligibility issues, including a proposal to enact work requirements for working age adults who are not disabled. But the administration cannot make any substantive changes in eligibility requirements without prior legislative approval.

Colyer said he still intends to move forward on those talks with CMS.

"We’re still looking at work opportunities," Colyer said. "This is a normal process issue. It doesn’t change where we’re going. That (the lifetime cap) was an important piece that we thought would help us in the long run, and the federal government just can’t do it."

Meanwhile, health care advocates in Kansas applauded CMS's decision.

Sheldon Weisgrau, interim executive director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, said in a statement that the three-year lifetime cap "would have done severe damage to the program's ability to act as safety net for the most vulnerable Kansans."

And Hilary Gee, a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said in a statement that the limit, "would have been particularly threatening to cancer patients and survivors, who require regular treatment and uninterrupted health care access."

During his speech to the Lawrence chamber, Colyer reiterated his opposition to expanding KanCare under the Affordable Care Act, which would extend coverage to an estimated 150,000 additional individuals. He also predicted that Congress will make another attempt this year to repeal the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

"I do expect the federal government to have another run at health care reform in this next year," he said in response to a question from the audience. "I think that will probably tell us where the system is headed in a lot of ways."

In response to other questions Monday, Colyer said he and his staff are just starting to review the new spending bill lawmakers approved last week, and he has not yet decided whether he will exercise his line-item veto authority on any items.

"There were 220 different budget compromises that were made, so we’re just in the first stages of evaluating those," he told the Journal-World.

He also declined to comment directly on the recent news that former University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was still being paid over $510,000 in salary and benefits to serve as a special adviser to the university following her stepping down as chancellor last year.

"I understand you need transitions," he said. "It’s really going to be up to the Board of Regents. They are the ones that control that. Hopefully they will learn some lessons."


Steve King 2 weeks, 2 days ago

A heinous move. Don't forget this is the guy that gave Brownback 3 bogus 3 day loans right before the reporting peroid to pad the books. I would not trust what this man says.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 weeks, 2 days ago

A lifetime cap? So someone who is disabled reaches their lifetime cap, and Kansas wants to then say, sorry, time for you to die?

William Cummings 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Please read the 4th paragraph. According to the article, the limit only applies to working age non disabled. (Please note that I am not defending the proposal. I just wanted to clarify its terms.)

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 weeks, 2 days ago

I didn't read that part. But how many people would that apply to? Kansas didn't expand medicaid. Generally the only people of working age and non disabled who get medicaid are parents of kids who are on medicaid. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get Medicaid? Even the elderly have a hard time getting it.

William Cummings 2 weeks, 2 days ago

Like I said, I am not defending the proposal. I am painfully aware of how hard it is to qualify for medicaid, Kansas has some of the most restrictive rules in the nation, and makes no account for the fact that disabilities do not come in "bright lines," but rather, come in degrees. The sole purpose of my post was to assist you in having an accurate set of facts on which to base your criticism.

William Cummings 2 weeks, 2 days ago

If you look closely at Kansas medicaid guidelines, you can identify the groups that the bill appears to target. The biggest group will be low income adult parents and caregivers who currently receive coverage alongside their minor children. Single parents would likely be the most impacted group.

Calvin Anders 2 weeks, 2 days ago

You do have to admire Colyer's clueless honesty and lack of spin in his admission that he really wanted to screw the poor but he was not surprised that CMS rejected the attempt. It seems like Colyer is so out of touch, so much inside the bubble, that he has no idea that he needs a good lie about how his efforts are really designed to help the poor. He just thinks everyone is already reading from the same hymnal about how important it is for the rich to have all the money. It's fascinating to witness that level of entitlement. But even so, it's a little bit less insulting than the insanely stupid lies Brownie's administration came up with about how his policies helped everyone.

Richard Heckler 2 weeks, 1 day ago

ALEC hard at work ----- anything to force privatization. How many more tricks does ALEC have up their sleeves?

Phillip Chappuie 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Since Jeff is an M.D. and he spends so much time figuring how to deny health care coverage to his fellow man, should he not turn in his Hippocratic Oath card? Or turn it into a Hypocrite Oath card? He certainly is clueless as well as heartless. PS the look on the person's face standing behind him is simply priceless. It says it all.

Calvin Anders 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Phillip, Jeff's Hippocratic Oath Card was damaged in shipping. When he got it the last word ("harm") was clipped off the end. His copy of the oath reads "First do no". So Dr. Colyer interprets that to mean that he should do his best to refuse treatment as a first response.

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