Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

KanCare Gets Federal Reprieve for One Year

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

KanCare Gets Federal Reprieve for One Year

Article excerpt

The federal government has granted a one-year extension of Kansas' privatized Medicaid program that provides coverage for more than 400,000 Kansans after denying the request and citing deficiencies in the program earlier this year.

Following an on-site visit a year ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in January denied Kansas' request for an extension and cited several concerns about the way the state ran its Medicaid program, KanCare, including limited oversight and coordination it argued posed a risk to recipients.

The Kansas Department for Health and Environment, which runs KanCare with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, took issue with the January findings.

In a letter dated Friday, CMS approved the request to extend the program through next year, as long as the state follows a list of directives, including continued compliance with a corrective action plan it submitted following the denial. The letter says the state has to apply for its full five-year reapplication by the end of the year.

"This temporary extension allows Kansas to continue its existing demonstration, which provides statewide managed care to almost all Medicaid state plan populations for their physical, behavioral, and long term care services and supports," the letter says.

KanCare was rolled out Jan. 1, 2013, and was set to expire at the end of this year. It's authorized by a waiver that allows states to deliver Medicaid services in experimental or pilot models and the state is working toward an application for another five-year waiver. According to a news release, it will post its new waiver proposal Friday and issue a request for proposals for private companies to provide KanCare coverage in November.

The reviews have been mixed. In a statement Monday, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who helped develop the program, praised its success and said he was pleased with CMS' decision to grant the waiver.

"Since KanCare's implementation, health outcomes have improved for thousands of Kansans," Colyer said. "Emergency room visits are down, routine checkups are increasing, and Kansans are spending less time in the hospital and more time taking advantage of preventative care. …

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