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Originally published Jan. 19, 2010 at 6:10 p.m., updated Jan. 20, 2010 at 9:51 a.m.
TOPEKA A toll-free help line for Medicaid clients and their medical providers that was slated to be dismantled due to budget pressures will remain open, officials announced today.
HP Enterprise Services, the contractor that processes Medicaid claims for the state, has agreed to accept reduced rates for providing customer service calls in exchange for having its annual contract with the state extended to 2013 with options to extend again in 2014 and 2015.
The Kansas Health Policy Authority announced in November it intended to cease call-center operations in response to budget cuts ordered by Gov. Mark Parkinson. Shutting down the call center was expected to save the agency about $250,000 of the $1.1 million it was ordered to trim from its operating budget.
The call center receives about 250,000 calls a year and news it was closing sparked concern among doctors, pharmacists and other providers who use it to help resolve billing questions and other matters.
Legislators criticized agency officials for not finding other ways to cut their budget, saying that eliminating the call center would end up costing the state more because providers would resubmit claims until they got them right leading to higher administrative costs for the agency and the providers.
Health policy authority officials said today that after they gave HP Enterprises notice of their intentions, the company approached them with an alternative plan:
“This call center is vitally important, both to the health care providers who serve Medicaid patients as well as Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Acting Medicaid Director Barb Langner in a prepared statement. “Just as one example, when a pharmacist has a patient at the counter who’s trying to get a prescription filled and for whatever reason the claim doesn’t go through, that situation needs to get resolved right away. You don’t want to send that person home without their medications.”
HP Enterprise Services was formerly known as EDS. The firm's contract with the health policy authority is worth about $34 million a year.