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Aug. 22, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Kan. State officials and health insurance providers on Tuesday promised a smooth transition into KanCare, the proposed overhaul of Kansas’ $2.9 billion Medicaid program.
“There is nothing simple about Medicaid,” said Joe Ewert, commissioner of survey and certification with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.
But he and officials from the three health insurance companies signed by the state to administer the Medicaid program said providers would receive timely payments and beneficiaries would continue to receive services for which they were eligible.
Julie Figgs, KDADS managed care operations manager, said providers might receive payments quicker than they do now. Officials said they expect properly filed claims to be paid within 20 days.
“Our goal is to get your money to you as fast as possible,” said Carolan Wishall, provider advocate for United Healthcare, one of the three managed care companies.
The other insurance companies working with the state are Amerigroup Kansas Inc. and Sunflower State Health Plan, which is a subsidiary of Centene.
Officials said KanCare would involve Medicaid services and would not affect benefits through other welfare programs such Medicare and food stamps.
Ewert said current benefits available through Medicaid would continue. Some benefits, such as preventive dental care for adults, will be added.
Medicaid enrollees might see a switch in case managers.
In some cases, Ewert said, maintaining an existing case-manager relationship would depend on whether the case manager was hired by one of the three health plans or whether the agency that employs the case manager becomes a subcontractor to the insurance company.
Officials led two meetings here on Tuesday that drew a combined total of 170 people. They were among several scheduled across the state through Aug. 31.
A morning session catered to Medicaid service providers. The afternoon session focused on consumers.
KanCare would shift virtually all of the state’s 380,000 Medicaid enrollees into managed care plans run by the three insurance companies.
The new program is scheduled to start Jan. 1, pending federal approval of the state’s application for a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday accepted the administration’s waiver application, initiating a public comment period that runs through Sept. 20. The administration withdrew its initial application to allow for additional input from American Indian tribal governments and health services.
Brownback officials also have said they expect the new program to reduce the growth in federal and state Medicaid spending in Kansas by $1 billion over five years.
Susan Jarsulic of Shawnee, a service provider and parent of a disabled adult daughter, attended one of the Tuesday sessions. As founder and board president of an adult day program, Jarsulic worries there will be more paperwork required when dealing with three insurance companies.
She said she also didn’t see the need for disrupting the current program.
“Personally,” she said, “I think the system has been working.”
Morris Egon, director of Eagle Case Management in Kansas City, Kan., said he left the morning session with a better understanding of KanCare.
But he said he was still uncertain how the managed care organizations would integrate case management.
Gary Holmes, executive director of a mental health skilled nursing facility in Edwardsville, said he came hoping to hear that KanCare would assure greater access to state psychiatric hospitals for patients with acute needs.
He said he left encouraged by the mental health focus within KDADS but does not anticipate an easier time getting patients into state hospitals.
“I don’t think it will make any difference,” he said of KanCare.
Here are some of the questions submitted by audience members Tuesday, with answers from state officials:
What happens when beneficiaries are unable to choose for themselves a plan to enroll in?
The hope is they can receive assistance from case managers or family.
Can providers sign up with the networks of all three managed care organizations?
Yes. The state is encouraging that.
Will call centers to assist patients and providers be outsourced?
The call centers will “all be here in Kansas, staffed by Kansas people,” Figgs said.
What happens to clients who have Medicaid enrollment applications pending during the changeover to KanCare?
They won’t have to reapply. The application and eligibility process is not changing.
The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy making environment. Find more about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 783-2529.