Kevin Unrein, chief executive and co-owner of Lakepoint Corporate, a company that operates three Kansas nursing homes, said there is something he would like state policymakers to know about KanCare in a recent Kansas Institute of Health article.
“It’s a mess,” he said last week, leaving a meeting at a Topeka hotel conference room that brought together dozens of nursing home managers and representatives of the state’s three KanCare managed care companies. “I think it’s like Obamacare. It wasn’t ready and they pushed it and made it work.
“Most of our problems with it tend to be billing issues, not getting them resolved. It’s all these little things that need to get fixed and they never get fixed,” he said. “Things like paying the wrong rates. That’s very common. We used to bill (the state-run Medicaid program) on Thursday or Friday every week and payment hit the bank the following Friday. Now, about 20 percent gets paid by the following week.”
The challenges of KanCare are not limited to payment. Unrein said the new system has increased his expenses.
“What Medicaid used to take one hour a week to do (in nursing home staff time), it now takes 40 hours,” Unrein said. “It’s basically doubled our billing costs. In the nursing home area, it ought to be pretty basic. Most of the people are going to be with us until they die. There’s not a lot of negotiating on hours and rates. It’s routine billing”
“We didn’t really start raising hell until June, July and August,” Unrein said of complaints his company began making then to the KanCare companies. “We thought this would all be figured out by now.”
Unrein said his company is owed an estimated $500,000 for services provided at facilities in El Dorado, Augusta and Wichita. Together, they house about 270 residents. More than half those frail, elderly people are enrolled in KanCare plans paid for by state Medicaid dollars.