KanCare would aid consumers

In November 2011, I joined Gov. Sam Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer in announcing reforms that will sustain Medicaid in Kansas and facilitate integrated, whole-person care for the state's most vulnerable populations. The catalyst for achieving these positive results is KanCare a plan to improve outcomes for Medicaid consumers and curb costs, all without scaling back eligibility or cutting rates for health care providers.

Currently, we are seeking a waiver from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which will enable Kansas to implement four major initiatives to improve Medicaid: 1) move all Medicaid populations into an integrated, person-centered care model; 2) cover all Medicaid services, including Long Term Support Services, through that model; 3) establish safety net care pools to ensure access to essential hospital services; and 4) create and support alternatives to Medicaid. The concept paper for the waiver was sent to CMS on Jan. 26 and can be found at www.kdheks.gov/hcf/kancare.

The current system is not sustainable, and care for Medicaid beneficiaries is fragmented. Tackling the structural deficit facing Medicaid cannot be accomplished by excluding or focusing solely on one population or service. Also, no short-term solutions provider rate cuts, tweaks of eligibility requirements or reducing services will address the scale of the issue over time.

The state is focused on an integrated, whole-person care system and creating health homes for those with diabetes, chronic mental health conditions or both. KanCare will preserve or create a path off Medicaid to independence and help develop alternative access models, care coordination and an emphasis on home and community based services. Kansas provides Medicaid services to more than 380,000 Kansans. Our HealthWave program (serving low-income families, pregnant women and children) is a managed care program that already provides services for nearly two-thirds of the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program population. Under KanCare, the state will expand this care management to all Medicaid populations, including the aged and disabled, by Jan. 1, 2013.

Services for Kansans with developmental disabilities will continue to be provided under the auspices of Community Developmental Disability Organizations, but their inclusion in KanCare means they will also benefit from the care coordination. KanCare companies will be accountable for functional as well as physical and behavioral health outcomes. Our goal is to improve access to health services and continue to reduce disparities in life expectancy while preserving services that improve quality of life.

ROBERT MOSER, M.D.,

Topeka

Moser is secretary and state heath officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

A time to buy American cars

Are people who drive cars made in foreign countries unpatriotic? How many American jobs have they cost us? What if almost everyone drove a foreign-made car?

If we really want to solve the employment crisis in the USA, buying American-made cars would be a good start.

CHARLES SKILLING,

Garden City