KHI News Service

Senate committee amends KanCare oversight bill

Fewer meetings during the session than the House called for

By Dave Ranney | March 19, 2013

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee today agreed to amend a House-passed bill that would create a joint legislative committee for overseeing KanCare and state efforts to develop home and community-based alternatives to institutional care.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, would have the committee meet at least once during regular legislative sessions.

The House version of House Bill 2025 required the oversight committee to meet at least three times during legislative session.

Denning said most legislators’ days are filled with meetings. He said he doubted legislators already sitting through hours of hearings on health care and social-service policies would be able to find room in their schedules for that many more meetings.

“I don’t feel good about forcing us to have three meetings that I doubt will be all that meaningful,” he said. “But if the (KanCare) wheels fall off and we need to meet more than once, we can.”

The amendment passed on a voice vote.

Rep. Don Hill, a Republican from Emporia and a member of the House Committee on Health and Human Services, later said he thought Denning’s amendment would meet resistance in the House.

“There was a clear though not unanimous consensus on the part of the House committee that it made perfect sense for the oversight committee to meet more often when the Legislature is in session because legislators and staff are all here in the building,” he said. “It would be convenient, certainly, and these are big policy decisions that we’re expecting the committee to have input on.”

Denning’s amendment did not change the requirement that the committee meet “at least once during the second, third, and fourth calendar quarters,” in addition to meeting during the sessioin.

In Kansas, regular legislative sessions begin in January and typically end in April or May.

Denning said he thought meetings outside the session calendar would be more productive.

“The interim is quality time,” Denning said. “You’re not having to run from one meeting to another, or you’re in session, or you’re trying to meet with constituents.”

The bill would charge an 11-member committee – five senators, six representatives – with overseeing KanCare as well as the state’s move to develop home and community-based alternatives to care provided in institutional settings such as nursing homes, group homes, and state hospitals.

If the bill is enacted, the committee’s oversight would begin July 1. Its duties would include compiling a report on whether KanCare had improved health-care outcomes and lowered costs.

KanCare refers to Gov. Sam Brownback’s initiative to remake the Medicaid program by moving virtually all the state's 370,000 beneficiaries into health plans managed by three insurance companies: Amerigroup, UnitedHealthcare and Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene. The new managed care program started Jan. 1.

The Brownback administration and several advocacy groups have testified in favor of the HB 2025.

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