Brownback officials continue push for Jan. 1 KanCare launch

Meeting with feds in Baltimore set for next week

0 | Legislature, KanCare, Medicaid-CHIP

— With deadlines looming, including one for deciding if the three managed care companies are ready to go, officials in the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback continue their push toward a Jan. 1 launch for the package of Medicaid reforms they call KanCare.

Kari Bruffett, director of the Health Care Finance Division at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told a legislative panel today that the administration's "readiness reviews" of the three KanCare contractors were in their second round and should be completed by next week.

Also, the managed care companies (MCOs) are expected to show state officials by Friday that their provider networks are at least 90 percent adequate, Bruffett said. Officials are scheduled to decide Oct. 19 whether the new system is developed enough so that they can begin assigning Medicaid enrollees to the MCOs' health plans.

Bruffett also said she and about nine other ranking state officials were scheduled to meet Oct. 18 in Baltimore, Md. with officials from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Office of Management and Budget and others to review the status of the state's application for a so-called Section 1115 Medicaid waiver. The federal approvals are needed in order to fully implement KanCare as planned by the administration.

"Next week is a pretty busy week," she said.

Bruffett told members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that "with all those caveats and decision points along the way, we're marching forward for Jan. 1 and all our efforts are for implementation on Jan. 1."

The governor announced his KanCare plan in November 2011. It would move virtually all of the state's 380,000 Medicaid enrollees —including the elderly in nursing homes and the mentally ill— into managed care plans run by the three for-profit insurance companies that were awarded KanCare contracts. The KanCare companies are Sunflower State Health Plan (a subsidiary of Centene), United HealthCare and Amerigroup.

Brownback officials say the goals of KanCare are to improve health outcomes for Medicaid clients while saving the state and federal governments $1 billion over five years — but without cutting the rates paid to doctors, hospitals and other Medicaid service providers. The Medicaid program is expected to account for about $3.2 billion in spending next year.

In a related development on Wednesday, the first of a series of weekly "stakeholder" teleconferences was held by KDHE.

Bruffett said about 190 people, mostly Medicaid providers, participated and were given opportunities to ask questions of the MCOs' representatives.



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