Kansas officials this week made public their first quarterly report to federal authorities on the progress of KanCare, Gov. Sam Brownback's initiative to move virtually all the state's Medicaid enrollees into privately run managed care plans.
The initiative was launched Jan. 1 with federal approval as part of a so-called Section 1115 Medicaid waiver intended to demonstrate that the Kansas plan can curb program costs while improving outcomes for the state's more than 380,000 Medicaid beneficiaries.
Brownback officials have projected the changes will cost the state and federal governments more than $1 billion over five years.
1st KanCare Quarterly Report
As a condition of the federal approval, the state is required to file quarterly reports with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outlining various facets of the KanCare program. The demonstration project is scheduled to continue through Dec. 31, 2017.
The report was filed with CMS on May 31, a Friday, and published without fanfare on the state's KanCare website on June 3, which was the following Monday.
“The report illustrates our commitment to transparency and responsiveness in the operation of KanCare. It’s a summary of the work we did in the first quarter on implementation and how we addressed challenges that emerged," said Kari Bruffett, director of the division of health care finance at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the state's lead Medicaid agency.
Among the things detailed in the report:
- The program ended its first quarter on March 31 with 323,869 people enrolled in the three plans managed by United HealthCare, Amerigroup and Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene.
- As part of "outreach" efforts to Medicaid enrollees and providers, the state held meetings during the first quarter for consumers in 12 cities, which attracted 619 people. Meetings for providers were held in six cities and drew 297 people. Meetings designed to assist nursing home officials brought out 92 people.
- Officials reported that most problems experienced during the transition to KanCare had been resolved but listed one as "still in solution building mode." According to the report, that remaining problem stemmed from inadequate timeliness and accuracy of information logged through the digital verification and claims processing system used by the personal care attendants who help disabled persons in their homes. But problems experienced with pharmacy, transportation and other services were largely settled by the end of the quarter, officials noted.
The almost 50 page document also included information from each of the managed care companies describing their expenditures on "value-added" services, including more than $500,000 spent collectively during the three months on dental and vision services. Together, the three companies reported spending about $1.9 million on value-added services with Sunflower accounting for about $1.2 million of the total.
As a condition of the federal approval, Native Americans were given the option of receiving Medicaid services outside KanCare. According to the report, only 12 opted out.
State officials also said they intended to include in future quarterly reports details about how they intend to portions of anticipated KanCare savings to reduce the waiting lists for services for the physically and developmentally disabled.
They also noted in the report that the Kansas Legislature added a proviso to the state's budget law precluding expansion of Medicaid eligiblity without express approval of the Legislature and that the state's new electronic Medicaid enrollment and eligibility system is on track to be interoperable with the new federal health insurance exchange effective Oct. 1.
State officials said federal officials provided no formal response to the report.
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