KHI News Service

Lower cost and better care: Can KanCare deliver?

By Jim McLean, Bryan Thompson | January 14, 2013

This series of stories produced by Kansas Public Radio and the KHI News Service examines Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to transform Medicaid.

The governor says his goal is to control the rising cost of the health care program for low-income, elderly and disabled Kansans so that it doesn’t overwhelm other state priorities. At the same time, he says he wants to improve the quality of care being delivered.

But many Medicaid consumers and groups that advocate for them are concerned about turning the program over to for-profit managed care companies. They fear services will be cut to maximize profits. Adding to their concerns is research that suggests that Medicaid managed care has yet to deliver on the promises being made by the growing list politicians promoting it.

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Part 1: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver?

Part 1: To many Kansans, Medicaid is just another welfare program. But it’s really much more than that. Yes, it provides health coverage for low-income mothers and children. But it also serves as a safety net for elderly Kansans. And it’s critical to keeping disabled Kansans in their communities and out of more expensive state hospitals. But the Kansas Medicaid program is undergoing big changes. The state has hired three for-profit companies to manage Medicaid as part of Governor Sam Brownback’s KanCare initiative. Today, we’re launching a week-long series on KanCare produced by Jim McLean of the KHI News Service and KPR’s own Health Reporter, Bryan Thompson. We begin with this report from Jim McLean.

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Part 2: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver?

Part 2: Medicaid is the second largest program the State of Kansas operates. Only education consumes more dollars in the state budget. And Medicaid costs have been growing at a faster pace than most other programs. A desire to control costs and improve care is why officials in Gov. Sam Brownback's administration say they are giving the program a complete overhaul. Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson has this report.

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Part 3: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver?

Part 3: As we've heard this week in our series on KanCare, Gov. Sam Brownback has two objectives for his overhaul of Medicaid. First, save money. Second, improve the care delivered to the 380,000 Kansans who depend on the program. But how realistic is it that the governor's KanCare program can achieve both of those goals? To answer that question, KHI News Service's Jim McLean turns to some recent research.

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Part 4: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver?

Part 4: This week, we've been hearing about KanCare – and how Gov. Brownback's effort to privatize Medicaid is intended to both save money and improve care. In Part 3 of this series, we heard how this kind of managed care seems to be working in some states. In Part 4, Jim McLean of the KHI News Service, takes us to some states where it hasn't worked... at least not yet.

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Part 5: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver?

Part 5: Now that KanCare is in effect, Kansans who rely on Medicaid are depending on private insurance companies to pay for their care. Will these companies live up to their contractual obligations? As we wrap up our series on KanCare, Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson takes a closer look at those contracts.

Read statements submitted to KHI News Service by Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and Shawn Sullivan, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.


<br clear="all" /><img src="" align="right" /> This story package was produced with our partners at Kansas Public Radio. Through our partnership, KPR and KHI produce regular coverage of state health issues. Station locations and more information are at All stories produced through this partnership are available at

KHI News Service coverage of KanCare

Hutchinson Clinic's letter throws a curve to KanCare open enrollment (1/28/14)
National Disability Council again urges CMS to hold off on Kansas DD carve-in (1/14/14)
DD carve-in not approved for Jan. 1 launch (12/27/13)
National Council on Disability urges one-year delay of KanCare DD carve-in (12/13/13)
KDADS chief describes lessons learned with KanCare (12/5/13)
Other states watching Kansas as it implements ‘unprecedented’ Medicaid model (12/5/13)
KanCare reimbursement problems continue for providers (11/25/13)
Kansas dental program for children on hold because of KanCare MCO (11/11/13)
Kansas Medicaid providers complain to oversight committee (10/7/13)
Wichita hospital execs describe problems with KanCare (8/29/13)
KanCare to adopt “health home” model for treating mentally ill (7/22/13)
Kentucky’s rush into Medicaid managed care: A cautionary tale for other states (7/18/13)
DD groups largely reconciled to KanCare carve-in (7/15/13)
Advocates urge more government oversight of Medicaid managed care (7/8/13)
Independent pharmacists push for KanCare contract enforcement (7/1/13)
Payroll agents for the disabled on Medicaid say they are struggling under KanCare (6/3/13)
Personal Care Attendants: KanCare's unheralded workers (5/20/13)
House GOP leaders pen letter backing DD supports in KanCare (5/17/13)
More than 1,000 rally at Statehouse for DD carve-out (5/8/13)
Nothing to be done about coverage gap in states not expanding Medicaid, feds say (4/29/13)
As KanCare continuity of care period ends, problems persist; legislators starting to hear about it (4/8/13)
Advocates raise concerns over possible reductions in KanCare services (3/28/13)
Conferees agree on KanCare oversight committee (3/28/13)
DD advocates push to extend KanCare "carve-out" (3/20/13)
Safety-net clinics struggling with KanCare (3/4/13)
Major medical provider groups ask for longer KanCare transition (2/13/13)
Lawmakers and providers assess KanCare transition (1/28/13)
Five-part series: "Lower cost and better care: Can KanCare deliver?" (1/14/13)
Independence of KanCare ombudsman questioned (1/7/13)
KanCare special terms and conditions spelled out by CMS in a document (12/28/12)
KanCare workforce shift hampering local agencies (12/10/12)
Governor announces KanCare approval by feds (12/7/12)
More KanCare implementation details outlined (12/3/12)
Federal officials say they hope to act soon on KanCare waiver request (11/28/12)
New KanCare info included on state website (11/20/12)
Groups call for KanCare delay (11/8/12)
Go/no-go date looms this week for KanCare (10/15/12)
KanCare benefit packages outlined (9/26/12)
Provider groups nervous about lack of KanCare details (9/13/12)
KanCare Confidential (9/10/12)
KanCare contracts awarded (6/27/12)
KanCare plan panned again at public hearing (6/20/12)
Wichita KanCare forum draws more than 200 (6/19/12)
Medicaid makeover: Can Kansas learn from Kentucky? (6/11/12)
Hundreds protest inclusion of disability services in KanCare (4/25/12)
Counties weighing in on KanCare (4/9/12)
Hospital administrator to chair KanCare Advisory Council (3/29/12)
Brownback Medicaid makeover an “ambitious” plan (3/28/12)
KanCare bidders heavily courting Medicaid providers (3/19/12)
Legislators push to delay KanCare start (3/7/12)
Brownback announces managed care for all in Medicaid (11/8/11)
Kansas Medicaid makeover in the works (3/7/11)

Full Medicaid and KanCare coverage

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