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Kansas dental program for children set to resume following KanCare glitch

By Phil Cauthon | February 20, 2014

Working as part of the Kansas Cavity-Free Kids program, dentist Joe Ferguson performs an on-site exam of a child's teeth at Clay Center Head Start in 2008. Also pictured: Head Start nurse Edna Gonser (right) and Kansas Cavity-Free Kids coordinator Kathy Hunt (pictured at left, upon clicking photo).

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Timothy Spilker, chief executive of United Healthealthcare.

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A program that provided oral health care to kids in Head Start before being effectively terminated by KanCare is nearly set to resume, officials say.

Before the launch of KanCare, Kansas Cavity Free Kids had for five years helped more than 7,000 children in 41 rural counties get regular cleanings, fluoride varnishes and sealants from dental hygienists in Head Start classrooms.

But the program was effectively shut down when day-to-day management of the state's Medicaid program was turned over to three for-profit managed care companies on Jan. 1, 2013.

UnitedHealthcare, one of the three KanCare contractors, chose to not authorize payment for teeth cleanings performed at Head Start, a decision that effectively put the entire program on ice.

Timothy Spilker — president of United’s Kansas health plan — told KHI News Service that the company has been working for the last three months to resolve the problem and that work is nearly complete.

"We've revised all of our payment policies and the codes will be consistent with what was covered prior to KanCare," Spilker said. "All of that should be effective here in the next week or two — mid-March at the absolute latest."

Kathy Hunt, the Head Start official who coordinated Kansas Cavity Free Kids, said that it would then take some time to get the program back on its feet.

"Once the fix is in place, we'll talk to the Head Start programs that were involved and they can work on rebuilding the system that they weren't able to continue," Hunt said. "It will take time. It's been a year and the folks they had in place, of course, moved on to other things."

Even so, Hunt said the glitch in the program may prove to be a good thing in the long run.

"Not only are they putting in this fix, but they want to work with the Head Start Association in other avenues, too, like helping promote oral health for pregnant women and finding other ways that we can help each other out," Hunt said. "In the long run, I think this might have been good. It may be the start of a partnership that might not have come about otherwise."

Related story

Kansas dental program for children on hold because of KanCare MCO

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)

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