KanCare

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Insurer only MCO to report no expenses for Kansas legislator meals in 2016

For the second year in a row, UnitedHealthcare reported no lobbying expenses during the Kansas legislative session.

The insurance company remained the outlier among the three under contract to administer KanCare, the privatized form of Medicaid that Kansas adopted in 2013.

Jim McClean / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Patient advocacy groups in Kansas remain concerned about a Medicaid drug policy scheduled to take effect July 1.

Known as “fail first” or “step therapy,” the policy requires providers participating in KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to start patients on less expensive drugs before moving them to more expensive alternatives if medically necessary.

KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute

A new computer system for enrolling Kansans in Medicaid and other public assistance programs will generate far less than the expected $300 million in savings, a Legislative Post Audit report found.

KanCare.ks.gov

Three years ago the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback privatized Kansas’s $3 billion Medicaid system and named it KanCare. Since then, the program has been the subject of a great deal of criticism. Last week a number of individuals testified before the joint House and Senate oversight committee, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. Those who spoke before the committee provided “unvarnished critiques” of the program.

Kansas City Star

Kansas hepatitis C patients who drink alcohol or stop using their medications could be in trouble, reports The Kansas City Star. A Kansas legislative panel recommended last week that these Hep C patients should lose their Medicaid coverage. The KanCare Oversight Committee also recommended that the state health department use “step therapy.” This is a process that requires Medicaid patients to try cheaper treatments first and receive more expensive treatments only if the other medicines fail.

Kansas Oversight Committee Members Spar

Jan 1, 2016
Thad Allton / Topeka Capital-Journal

Health care in Kansas remains a contentious issue in the halls of power. On Tuesday an oversight panel turned into a verbal sparring match about the state’s handling of its Medicaid program, reports The Topeka Capitol-Journal.

Susie Fagan

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Three Republicans will not be returning to the House Health and Human Services Committee next year.

The reason: Their support for Medicaid expansion.

Via Christi Health

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas’ “failure” to expand Medicaid is putting health care providers in jeopardy, the head of the state’s largest health system said Wednesday.

Jeff Korsmo, CEO of Wichita-based Via Christi Health, issued a statement calling on Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders to drop their opposition to expanding KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Mercy Hospital Independence

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Rep. Jim Kelly says closure should serve as warning to other communities

The scheduled closure of the hospital in the southeast Kansas community of Independence could create new urgency around the Medicaid expansion debate.

Kansas Health Institute

As the Kansas legislative session winds down, a late-session attempt to make Medicaid expansion a bargaining chip was sidelined by debates on a tax and budget plan. Expansion would have made all Kansas adults with incomes up to 138 percent of poverty eligible.

Dave Ranney / Kansas Health Institute

At the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, Kansas hospital administrators signaled their willingness to talk about increasing a state assessment on their revenues to fund Medicaid expansion.

They anticipated that the state’s deteriorating budget situation would make it impossible for Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders to consider expansion without a way to pay for the state’s share of the costs.

And they anticipated that even with funding options, Medicaid expansion was a long shot to pass.

The companies managing Kansas' privatized Medicaid program continued to lose money in 2014. Amerigroup, Sunflower Health Plan and United Healthcare cut their losses from the year before, but still took a loss of $52 million. Losses totaled $116 million in 2013.

Governor Sam Brownback recently signed a “welfare reform” bill that his administration is calling the most comprehensive in the nation. Brownback signed the measure despite a wave criticism from those who say it punishes the poor.

Dave Ranney / Kansas Health Institute

State officials told legislators Thursday that the state's share of Medicaid expansion costs could start at $100 million per year and increase from there, and those costs could double if the federal government required full funding of waiting lists as a condition of expansion.

One day after her predecessor testified in favor of expansion under the Affordable Care Act, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier provided neutral testimony that warned legislators of potential fiscal pitfalls.

Mosier said there were "moral implications" of expanding Medicaid to "able-bodied adults" while Kansans with disabilities were still awaiting some services, likening it to "cutting in line."

KHI News Service

News that Gov. Sam Brownback has softened his position on Medicaid expansion wasn’t exactly racing through the Statehouse on Thursday.

But it certainly had some legislators buzzing.

In remarks Wednesday to conservative lawmakers in Missouri, Brownback said if the Kansas Legislature presented him with a budget-neutral expansion bill, he would likely sign it, according to a report in the Missouri Times.

thepoliticalinsider.com

Kansas Rep. Tom Sloan is trying to piece together a Medicaid expansion proposal he hopes Gov. Sam Brownback and GOP conservatives might consider according to the Kansas Health Institute

The moderate Republican from Lawrence is borrowing elements from other conservative governors that have received or are seeking federal approval for more private-sector approaches.

The state’s budget shortfalls won’t make things any easier.  The bill has to find a way to cover the state’s share of expansions costs for several years. 

Several red-state governors have recently dropped their opposition to Medicaid expansion reports the Kansas Health Institute.

Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Tennessee are pursuing expansion options that use billions in additional federal Medicaid dollars.  The increase helps low-income adults purchase private coverage or create health savings accounts.

16 states, including Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas are not discussing the issue.

Dave Ranney / Kansas Health Institute

Advocates for Kansans with disabilities and frail seniors say they will file objections to proposed KanCare waiver changes reports the Kansas Health Institute

The waivers define the state’s approach to Medicaid funded services that help them live in the community rather than in nursing homes.

bizjournals.com

Very few Kansans eligible for dental coverage offered under KanCare are taking advantage of the benefit reported Andy Marsco for the Kansas Health Institute

khi.org

The Secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says new federal labor rules may interfere with services that help disabled Kansans live in their own homes.  The concern is about overtime for workers who are hired and supervised by people with disabilities reported Bryan Thompson for Kansas Public Radio.

kaiserhealthnews.org

Kansas had 7% increase in Medicaid enrollment, also known as KanCare, between June of 2013 and 2014, despite the fact the state chose not to take advantage of federal funds to expand the program. The increase was also experienced by other states that did not expand Medicaid reported Bryan Lowry for The Wichita Eagle

kcur.org

The three main KanCare contractors all lost money in their first year of managing health care for 380,000 Kansas Medicaid enrollees according to a recent article from the Kansas Health Institute.

The trio received cash infusions from their parent companies allowing them to meet their obligations and stay solvent.

tacticalminc.com

In Kansas, The Kansas Health Institute recently reported that more than 10,000 Kansans applied or Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) in January.  That is an increase of 20% over the monthly average since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace was launched.

Nursing Home Struggles with KanCare Payment Issues

Nov 25, 2013
chamberofcommerce.com

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.

nabholz.com

Nine months into the Kansas Medicaid makeover, health care providers are struggling with KanCare reported the Kansas Health Initiative

KanCare is the commercially run managed care version of the Kansas Medicaid program.  The next step in program implementation according to the Kansas Health Institute is to begin a health home model for the state’s 36,000 mentally ill.