The first step in fixing the state’s privatized Medicaid system, KanCare, is addressing its problems rather than rolling out an updated version that essentially adds more layers.
Concerns about the system, which was authored by Gov. Jeff Colyer when the Johnson County surgeon became lieutenant governor and was directly involved in reforms introduced by the Brownback administration, have been ongoing since its implementation at the beginning of 2013.
In January 2017, after KanCare was hailed by Gov. Brownback in his State of the State address as a system gaining national acclaim, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a letter critical of the state’s effort to administer the program.
Those problems are ongoing.
Operational challenges resulting in backlogs of unprocessed applications, combined with inadequate funding for mental health and costs associated with implementing and monitoring work requirements have led to growing concerns over the services provided to more than 400,000 KanCare beneficiaries across the state.
Last week, modifications to the system, which would be introduced as KanCare 2.0, were put on hold in an announcement made by Brownback and Colyer. Still, state senators who sit on the Ways and Means Committee were compelled to hear testimony this week regarding a bill designed to formally halt KanCare 2.0.
The gubernatorial transition, which was finalized Wednesday with the official resignation of Brownback and the swearing in of Colyer, demanded that legislators get involved in the debate over KanCare and its potential modification into KanCare 2.0. Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, said the Legislature was best served to step in regardless of the intentions announced by Brownback and Colyer to cease with the facilitation of KanCare 2.0.
Good move. Too many concerns exist and too many problems must be addressed with KanCare, including costs involved in implementing changes as legislators concern themselves with a state budgetary process that must also address issues over the proper funding of Kansas schools.
The application the state submits to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal agency that approves and administers Medicaid programs, can be amended, but should not include the substantial updates incorporated into KanCare 2.0. Too many flaws exist with KanCare to think that system can be the framework for something even more extensive.
— GateHouse Kansas