KHI News Service

Hospital administrator to chair KanCare Advisory Council

Panel holds first meeting

By Dave Ranney | March 29, 2012

Steve Kelly, chief executive of the Newton Medical Center, has been named chair of the KanCare Advisory Council.

“I welcome the opportunity to be part of the conversation as we move forward into the future,” Kelly said.

The advisory council met for the first time Thursday.

Steve Kelly, chief executive of Newton Medical Center, was named chair of the KanCare Advisory Council during the group's first meeting Thursday in Topeka.

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Kelly has served on the Kansas Hospital Association’s board of directors since 2008. He’s currently chair of the association’s Medicaid Managed Care Technical Advisory Group.

“Coming at this from a hospital’s perspective, there are times I have to say our health care system seems to reward its most inefficient use rather than the most efficient use,” Kelly said.

The state’s Medicaid program, he said, doesn’t do enough to promote wellness.

“If you spent a dollar on keeping somebody well, you save $7 on caring for them when they’re sick,” Kelly said.

For KanCare to be successful, he said, it needs to “encourage wellness and reward those who take the initiative to go that route.”

KanCare is Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for moving virtually all of the state's 380,000 Medicaid beneficiaries into fixed-cost managed care plans operated by three companies.

Department on Aging Secretary Shawn Sullivan, state Medicaid Director Susan Mosier and Kari Bruffett, an assistant secretary at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, led the advisory council’s initial 90-minute discussion.

Bruffett’s remarks included several announcements:

• Face-to-face negotiations with the managed care companies bidding on KanCare contracts will begin next week. Officials expect to wrap up the negotiations and send the contracts to federal officials for approval in June.

• The administration will announce plans for several KanCare town hall meetings and webinars in April. A KanCare website should be up and running in June.

• The advisory council will meet bimonthly.

• In August, the administration will convene monthly meetings with several stakeholder groups.

• The contractors’ provider networks are to be “fully in place” and ready for inspection in November. Enrollment will begin in December.

Sullivan said officials plan for all Medicaid beneficiaries who are diabetic and/or mentally ill to be assigned to a medical home by Jan. 1, 2014.

“One in every five hospital admissions is diabetic,” Kelly said.

Beneficiaries with other chronic conditions will be assigned medical homes by Jan. 1, 2015, Sullivan said.

Dave Sanford, left, executive director at GraceMed, a safety-net clinic in Wichita, listens to Collin McKinney, executive director at Starkey Inc., a program for the developmentally disabled also in Wichita, before the first meeting of the KanCare Advisory Council.

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During the discussion, the advisory council’s 20 members were asked to share their concerns. A sampling of their comments:

• “Until we can get enrollees actively engaged in their own health care, we’re just putting on Band-Aids,” said Dr. Kevin Bryant, a Wichita physician.

• “There’s a lot of fretting among seniors about whether they’ll be lost in the shuffle when the Department on Aging takes on all the home- and community-based waivers,” said Dave Geist, executive director of the Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging.

• “From a business perspective, we have to make sure the playing field remains level,” said Larry Martin, who owns a small home health company in Leavenworth. “Small business has to be able to compete.”

• “If it makes sense to phase in the health-home piece over a period of time, does it not also make sense to talk about phasing in KanCare – a $2.8 billion conversion - over a period of time?” said Colin McKenney, executive director of Starkey Inc., a Wichita program for the developmentally disabled.

• “Are there going to be inconsistencies in coverage, going from one managed care company to another?” said Dave Sanford, executive director at GraceMed, a safety-net clinic in Wichita. “That’s a big concern.”

The advisory council’s next meeting is May 21. A time and place have not been announced.

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