Anticipating significant changes in federal health care policy, Kansas officials are slowing their timeline for renewing KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.
Some of the health policy changes favored by President-elect Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders would significantly alter the way Medicaid is funded and relax rules that dictate who and what states must cover. But it isn’t yet clear which of those changes will be included in promised legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Given the lack of clarity, Mike Randol, director of the Division of Health Care Finance in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told members of the Legislature’s KanCare oversight committee on Friday that the agency intends to slow the KanCare renewal process. A request for proposals that had been scheduled to go to managed care companies before the end of the year is being delayed indefinitely, he said.
“We want to clearly understand what changes are going to occur in D.C. with that transition,” Randol said. “We really want to make sure we identify those opportunities that will enhance the current KanCare program and really position Kansas as a model program for the nation.”
Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a physician and the architect of KanCare, concurred in the decision to delay.
“It is only prudent to see what changes may occur in Washington to get a clear picture of how our RFP, and the resulting bids we get from the managed care organizations, will help Kansans,” Colyer said in a news release.
Despite the delay, Randol said the administration still intends to seek whatever approval it needs from federal officials to implement “KanCare 2.0” by Jan. 1, 2018.
Meanwhile, a study released this week by several Kansas provider groups said KanCare had achieved mixed results in its first four years.
Done by a Utah-based consulting firm headed by former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, the study found that transitioning to a managed care system had significantly reduced program costs. But it said that some of the reductions were achieved by cutting reimbursements and shifting costs to providers, not through efficiencies.
The report also said that KanCare had fallen short of many of the health improvement goals that Colyer and Gov. Sam Brownback set for it.