KHI News Service

Centene and Coventry get Missouri managed care contracts

Companies also among those vying for Kansas Medicaid business

By Mike Shields | February 22, 2012

Centene and Coventry, two of the five major managed care companies seeking a contract with the Kansas Medicaid program, have landed awards from the state of Missouri, officials there announced today.

Today also was the deadline for bids on Gov. Sam Brownback's KanCare proposal and administration officials confirmed Centene, Coventry and three other companies had met the deadline. Centene is seeking the KanCare award through its wholly owned subsidiary, Sunflower State Health Plan.

The KanCare plan was announced by administration officials in November 2011 and most of the nation's large managed care companies expressed early interest in bidding on it.

Photo by Dave Ranney Zane Yates of Centene spoke Wednesday morning with members of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition. Yates said the company prided itself on its "local" approach. He said the company would work closely with Kansas Medicaid providers and consumers, if it is among the companies awarded a KanCare contract. A Centene subsidiary, Cenpatico, already has a Kansas contract to provide behavioral health services.

View larger photo

The Governor's Office released a statement this afternoon saying the five companies that submitted bids were:

• Centene, which is headquartered in suburban St. Louis, but its subsidiary has opened a Topeka office,

• Wellcare of Kansas, which is based in Tampa, Fla.,

• United Health Care of Minneapolis, Minn.,

• Coventry Health Care of Kansas, which is headquartered locally in Wichita and nationally in Bethesda, Md., and

• Amerigroup, which is based in Virginia Beach, Va.

Aetna, which also scored a Missouri award, had shown early interest in the Kansas proposal but was not among those submitting bids by today's deadline. It wasn't immediately clear why the company did not offer a KanCare bid.

KanCare would extend managed care to virtually all Kansas Medicaid beneficiaries, including the elderly and disabled.

Zane Yates, Centene vice president of regulatory and government affairs, today told members of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition that the company also had won a recent award from Washington state. He said the Clayton, Mo.-based company also has a bid pending with New Hampshire and that this morning he had delivered the company's "final response" to the Kansas request for proposal.

Kansas is one of several states that have recently expanded or plan to expand managed care within their Medicaid programs.

Centene, Coventry and Wellcare were the three companies chosen last year to implement Kentucky's managed care expansion, which began Nov. 1, 2011.

The Kentucky plan got off to a rocky start. Its implementation was delayed a month and complaints from pharmacists, hospitals and other providers sparked a round of legislative hearings last week after a co-chairman of the Program Review and Investigations Committee earlier in the month threatened to subpoena information from the companies.

The Kentucky health care providers said they were having problems getting timely payments from the managed care companies, and independent pharmacists complained they were losing money after some of the companies cut the prescribing fees the pharmacists were paid.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshears ushered in the changes, which officials there have projected could save the state $375 million over three years.

Brownback officials have predicted KanCare will save the state and federal governments about $850 million over five years.

Administration officials here have said they hope to have the KanCare contracts finalized by summer and intend to choose three companies to divide Medicaid services statewide.

The Kansas Medicaid program costs about $2.8 billion a year and serves more than 350,000 Kansans.

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