New Medicaid enrollment system remains on track

But more needed from feds with little time remaining, Kansas official says

0 | Health Reform, Medicaid-CHIP

— The building of a new Kansas Medicaid eligibility and enrollment system intended to be interoperable with the new federal health insurance exchange remains on budget, according to the state's project overseer. But the system's connection to the exchange could miss the Oct. 1 timeline, if federal officials don't pick up the pace on their end.

Glenn Yancey, executive director of KEES (the Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System) gave an update today on the project's progress to members of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Information Technology.

He said "delayed guidance" from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding "data exchange" interfaces between KEES and the planned federal insurance exchange were among the things complicating the project's implementation, some phases of which already are complete and functioning.

He said state officials working with Accenture, the contractor designing and building KEES for the state, needed to hear back from federal officials regarding the system's design for working with the planned federal data hub. He said once they hear back it remains unclear how long it will take the state and Accenture to make the system work as intended in conjunction with the insurance exchange.

"It's almost impossible (at this point) to know how much time we would need," Yancey told KHI News Service in a follow-up interview.

Officials from Kansas and other states have complained for months that delays in federal rule making and design elements have been hindering efforts to meet the federal goal of having insurance exchanges operating in each state by Oct. 1.

Health plans offered through the exchanges — sometimes called marketplaces — are supposed to be effective for beneficiaries beginning Jan. 1, 2014. As many as 300,000 Kansans are expected to get their coverage through the new marketplaces.

Yancey told lawmakers that the project overall was at a "pivot point," moving between earlier planning and "envisioning" to "execution."

He said the design delays prompted by lack of federal guidance were complicating the schedules for "downstream" project tasks such as system testing, training, user documentation and other "implementation activities."

He said Accenture had shifted staff with the goal of keeping the overall project on schedule despite the setbacks, which had put some components of the work dealing with the federal interface several weeks behind.

He said about $7.2 million of the project's $138 million budget was still unspent and likely would be enough for the system to be completed without cost overruns. The federal government is covering about 90 percent of the project's cost with the requirement that it be interoperable with the new, online insurance marketplace.

The project's first phase, which included a "self-service" web portal for people to submit Medicaid applications and a "presumptive eligibility" portal used by Children's Mercy Hospital, Via Christi Health Center, Hunter Health Center, the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas and Grace Med, was completed in July 2012, less than a year after the state signed its contract with Accenture.

Since the online Medicaid application system went live last year, almost 11,000 applications have been processed, according to information Yancey gave the committee.

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The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute. It is supported in part by a variety of underwriters. The News Service is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy-making environment. All News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution, including a link back to KHI.org when a story is reposted online. An automatically updated feed of headlines and more from KHI can be included on your website using the KHI widget. More about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 233-5443.



The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute. It is supported in part by a variety of underwriters. The News Service is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy-making environment. All News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution, including a link back to KHI.org when a story is reposted online. An automatically updated feed of headlines and more from KHI can be included on your website using the KHI widget. More about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 233-5443.










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