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Originally published April 27, 2012 at 9:39 a.m., updated April 27, 2012 at 4:21 p.m.
TOPEKA As part of its effort to remake the Kansas Medicaid program, the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback has completed its 1115 Medicaid waiver application.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and other top administration officials fielded questions about it today during an hour-long Statehouse press conference.
The application was posted Thursday without fanfare to the website of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and also submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"We sincerely appreciate the accessibility and candidness of CMS throughout this application process," Colyer said.
The administration earlier this year gave federal officials a concept paper roughly outlining what would be in the full waiver application. Brownback officials need the waiver approved in order to move forward with their plan to shift the state's 350,000 Medicaid beneficiaries into managed care plans operated by three insurance companies.
The administration currently is reviewing bids from five companies. According to the timeline attached to the waiver application, administration officials intend to have the final three companies chosen by May with contracts signed by June. State officials said they expected CMS to approve the contracts sometime in August.
Town hall meetings to inform Medicaid clients and providers about how the plan would work are scheduled to begin in July.
The new program would be launched Jan. 1, 2013, assuming the federal approvals are secured and the managed care companies have been certified ready to go.
The waiver application included information about the administration's recent agreement to postpone until January 2014 the inclusion in KanCare of long-term services for the developmentally disabled.
The greatest opposition to the KanCare plan has been from families of the developmentally disabled and their service providers.
Had the administration not submitted its application by today, it would have been required to meet new federal regulations regarding public input on 1115 waiver applications.
Colyer said the application wasn't submitted to meet that deadline and that administration officials felt they met most of the new requirements anyway because of the various forums and public meetings they have attended or held while developing their Medicaid makeover plan.
The new requirements, effective today, would require that state officials hold at least two public hearings and allow comment on an application 30 days prior to submitting it for federal review.
Federal officials now will allow a 45-day public comment period before acting on the application.
Among those planning to comment to federal officials is Kansas Action for Children, a Topeka-based advocacy group.
Shannon Cotsoradis, the organization's chief executive, said KAC has several concerns about the KanCare plan, including the fact that it doesn't spell out how those currently enrolled in the state's HealthWave program will be moved into KanCare.
HealthWave provides medical services to low- and moderate-income children and pregnant women who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
"We have 238,000 Kansas children that rely on HealthWave and there doesn't seem to be a clear and transparent process for transitioning them to KanCare," Cotsoradis said.
Under KanCare, Medicaid clients would be automatically assigned to one of the three managed care companies. The clients then would have 45 days to decide if they wanted to be enrolled with another company.
Cotsoradis said she feared the "auto assigning" of clients could disrupt relationships some children or families have developed with doctors or other Medicaid providers, if it turns out that the providers are in the network of a company other than the one to which the family has been auto assigned by the state.
She said many families likely wouldn't learn that they had been put in a new plan until they tried to go to the doctor and that might not happen within the 45 day window for choosing a different plan.
"So all that work that's been done over years to see that that kid has a medical home could be disrupted by the auto assignment," she said. "That can be a huge thing for those with special health care needs. Disruption in the relationship can be very problematic."
Administration officials have said they intend to auto assign equal thirds of the state's Medicaid population to each of the three managed care companies to assure that each company has enough clients to sustain a statewide operation. The KanCare plan requires that each of the companies provide services statewide, as opposed to operating in a specific region of the state or city. Officials have said that component of their plan is essential to assuring quality services in all parts of the state, including the more remote, rural counties.
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