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KDHE responds to CMS enrollment concerns

Officials say agency's computer system will be fully compatible by Aug. 15

By Dave Ranney | July 15, 2014

A spokesman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said he expects the agency’s computer system to be fully compatible with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services system by Aug. 15.

KDHE Chief Information Officer Glen Yancey shared the prediction Monday in a letter sent to CMS headquarters in Baltimore.


Letter to CMS

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The letter was in response to CMS officials last month directing officials in six states, including Kansas, to submit plans for correcting delays in determining eligibility in their respective Medicaid programs, primarily for pregnant women, children, and people with disabilities.

The six states were Kansas, Alaska, California, Michigan, Missouri and Tennessee.

“Our response was that we’re moving forward and we’re going to make sure this gets fixed,” said Sara Belfry, a spokesperson for KDHE.

Several news outlets characterized the CMS letters as “demands” that the six states address months-long delays in the processes for determining eligibility.

But Kansas’ troubles, Belfry said, have more to do with difficulties in sharing information with CMS computers than with processing applications.

“We kind of got lumped in with the other states because the letters all went at the same time,” Belfry said. “We don’t have a backlog in applications.”


CMS letter to Kansas

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In the initial letter, CMS Director Cindy Mann wrote that while Kansas appeared to be in compliance or near-compliance with six of the seven “critical success factors” for ensuring implementation of the Affordable Care Act, it “still does not have the ability to send or receive account transfers from the FFM (federally facilitated marketplace), which interferes with Kansas’ residents’ ability to apply and enroll in Medicaid.”

Most of the shortcomings, Belfry said, are tied to ongoing efforts to redesign the Kansas Eligibility and Enforcement System (KEES), the software package used to calculate Medicaid eligibility, gather and share data, and let enrollees know if they are eligible for other benefits.

Earlier, KDHE officials predicted KEES would be up and running by October 2013. The rollout was later pushed back to March or April 2014. It’s now Aug. 15.

Advocates for uninsured and underinsured Kansans on Tuesday said they had not heard any reports of Medicaid applications being stuck in the state’s system for determining eligibility.

“When the stories about the CMS letter came out last week, we used our social media to ask if this was a problem,” said Sean Gatewood, director of the Kansas Medicaid Access Coalition. “We didn’t hear back from anybody.”

KDHE last month announced that enrollment in the state’s Medicaid program had reached a historic high of 426,642 people in April. That’s a 30,300-person increase over the previous year.

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