KHI News Service

KDHE officials release information sought by JoCo commission

By Mike Shields | September 11, 2012

Officials at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said today that they had released additional information from the state's Medicaid managed care contracts sought in an Open Records request filed last week by the Johnson County Commission.

That information followed an earlier release requested by county officials of cost proposals submitted to the state by Amerigroup, Sunflower State Health Plan and United Healthcare, the insurance companies that signed KanCare contracts with the state. State officials said they sent the earlier information to the county officials on Friday. Johnson County officials confirmed Monday that they received that information and were still looking through it on Tuesday.

Some of that insurance company information had been marked "confidential" trade secrets but a KDHE spokesperson said none of the companies had objected to release of the documents.

No objection from companies

Miranda Steele of KDHE said officials at the department of administration had advised the managed care companies that the state had received an Open Records request for the cost proposals, which the state intended to honor.

"According to D of A, none of the MCOs objected at the time. So in our opinion, we did not need to ask the MCOs for consent to send the cost proposal information," to Johnson County, Steele said in an email to KHI News Service.

The state's public disclosure laws include exemptions for trade secrets and some other insurance company financial filings. According to Johnson County officials, they were informed verbally last week that their second information request would be denied because of that exemption. The county then filed a formal written request for the information, which was approved today by Michael G. Smith, associate chief counsel at KDHE's division of health care finance.

The information sent to Johnson County officials this afternoon also was given to KHI News Service upon request and has been posted as attachments to this article.<a name="continued"></a>

Some changes

The newly released documents show some changes in the signed contracts with the companies versus the final cost proposals the firms submitted in May during negotiations with state officials.

Johnson County officials have been critical of Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to include long-term support services for the developmentally disabled in his Medicaid makeover plan, which is called KanCare. Bowing to pressure from legislators earlier this year, the administration agreed to postpone including those services in the program until 2014. KanCare is scheduled to launch Jan. 1, pending federal approval. It would extend managed care to virtually all persons covered by Medicaid in Kansas, including the elderly and mentally ill.

Maury Thompson, executive director of Johnson County Developmental Supports, a county agency that serves the developmentally disabled, initiated the county's information requests seeking to determine how much the insurance companies would be allowed in their state contracts for administrative costs, a category under which any potential profits for the firms would fall.

County Commission Chair Ed Eilert is the father of a developmentally disabled child and also has been critical of the KanCare plan.

KanCare Confidential

Second request granted, too

In the county's second information request, attachments A and B of the KanCare contracts were sought. State officials earlier had posted portions of the contract and related documents, including some correspondence, on a state website. But the postings did not include the attachments that Johnson County officials said they believed would provide answers to their questions about how much administrative costs the managed care companies would be allowed. The cost proposals provided in response to the county's first request were revealed to be somewhat different in the final contract document.

The county's effort to get the information and the earlier verbal denial of its request was noted in an opinion column in the Kansas City Star and in a story published Monday by KHI News Service.

Brownback officials have said they want the transition to KanCare to be a "transparent" process. They have held a number of public hearings across the state to describe their plan. But many Medicaid providers and some legislators have said they can't get details as fast as they would like in anticipation of a major program shift scheduled to begin in about 14 weeks, pending federal approvals of the plan, the contracts and the rates negotiated by the state with the insurance companies.

"I am appreciative of the administration's timely response to our Open Records requests and pleased that they have chosen to provide the requested information," Thompson of Johnson County said, "hopefully permitting for a thorough review of the costs of the administration's managed care plan."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story inaccurately described some details of the changes in the MCOs' cost proposals during negotiations versus final rates agreed to in the KanCare contracts.

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