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Feb. 1, 2012
TOPEKA A Wichita lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require an annual evaluation of the state's Medicaid managed care contractors.
House Bill 2573 was sponsored by Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat who serves on the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Ward said he offered the measure in response to Gov. Sam Brownback's KanCare proposal, which would extend managed care to virtually all Kansans enrolled in the Medicaid program.
The governor proposes to divide much of the annual $2.8 billion in Medicaid spending among three companies, which each would be required to provide services statewide.
Administration officials have said they expect the plan to be implemented with no reduction in services to beneficiaries and no significant cuts in reimbursements paid to doctors, hospitals and other providers. They also have estimated $850 million in savings over five years, saying the cost-cutting largely would result from better coordination of care and reduction of unnecessary or duplicated services.
Ward's bill would direct the Legislative Coordinating Council to contract with the Kansas Health Institute to conduct the annual evaluation or audit.
Ward said he included KHI in the bill because the nonprofit think tank has a staff that includes former state budget director Duane Goossen and Scott Brunner, former financial officer for the defunct Kansas Health Policy Authority, which administered the state's Medicaid program.
KHI President Dr. Robert St. Peter said he and other policy experts at the institute had heard from several legislators interested in discussing what sort of oversight might work best for the anticipated managed care expansion. But he said Ward had included KHI in his proposed bill "without our encouragement or involvement."
St. Peter said it wasn't immediately clear whether KHI would be well-suited for the auditing role outlined in the bill.
"Whether we'd be interested or even capable would depend on the scope of what would be done," he said.
Ward's bill, The KanCare Accountability Act, outlines four main areas in which the managed care companies would be evaluated, with an eye toward assuring:
It also would require an annual survey of providers and Medicaid beneficiaries to determine how satisfied they were by their dealings with the managed care companies.
“Gov. Brownback has pledged that his KanCare plan will not cut benefits, that it will not cut Kansans' eligibility and that it will not reduce the amount paid to doctors and hospitals. But there is too much at stake to accept his promise at face value," Ward said. "We must hold the insurance companies accountable."
Ward earlier introduced a bill that would exclude long-term care services for the developmentally disabled from the KanCare plan, which currently is out for bids.
Interested managed care companies submitted their technical proposals earlier this week and face a Feb. 22 deadline for submitting the financial portions of their bids.
Administration officials have said they hope to award contracts by summer and implement the new system starting Jan. 1, 2013.
Medicaid serves about 350,000 Kansans.
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.